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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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August 7, 2002 - 6,490 subscribers
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Bush Signs Fast-Track Trade Bill That Includes Health Benefits for Trade-Displaced Workers
Excerpt: "The legislation includes a 10-year, $12 billion plan to give displaced workers health and other benefits ... The bill provides uninsured trade-displaced workers with a refundable tax credit to cover 65% of the cost of their health insurance premiums. The workers could use the tax credits to purchase health insurance through COBRA, the 1986 Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Analysis: California Agency Cannot Require MCOs to Cover Drugs For Sexual Dysfunction
Excerpt: "A managed care organization (MCO) cannot be forced to cover prescription drugs that treat sexual dysfunction under California state law, a state appeals court in California held. Therefore, the state's MCO regulatory agency exceeded its authority when it declined to approve an MCO's policy amendment that would exclude coverage for sexual dysfunction under its outpatient prescription drug program." (Thompson Publishing Group)

$1 Million Florida Privacy Settlement with Drugstore Chain Illustrates Ongoing State Role
Excerpt: "Eckerd Corp. agreed July 10 to pay $1 million to fund a college ethics endowment to resolve an investigation by the state of Florida into the pharmacy chain's methods of obtaining consumers' consent to use their health information for marketing purposes. This case is indicative of the continuing role of states in policing possible invasions of medical privacy." (Thompson Publishing Group)

California Bill to Extend Privacy Rules to Pharmaceutical Companies Passes Assembly Unanimously
Excerpt: "Assemblywoman Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, is pushing legislation (AB2191) that finally would extend medical-privacy restrictions (now applied to doctors, health insurers and pharmacists) to pharmaceutical companies.... AB2191 cleared the Assembly on a 79-to-0 vote." (The San Francisco Chronicle)

Who Do You Trust? Americans' Perspectives on Health Care, 1997-2001
Excerpt: "New findings from the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) Community Tracking Study Household Survey indicate consumer confidence in the system and trust in physicians increased slightly between 1997 and 2001, perhaps as a result of changes in laws and loosening of health plan restrictions. Nevertheless, there is strong evidence of continued public concern about the influence of health plans on medical decision making." (Center for Studying Health System Change)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General
(These items appear in both editions of the BenefitsLink Newsletter)

General Motors to Expense Its Stock Options
Excerpt: "General Motors said [on Tuesday, August 6, 2002] that it would start counting its stock options as an expense at the beginning of next year, becoming the first automaker to announce such a plan ... But G.M., the world's largest automaker, also said it believed that a better method of determining a stock option's value needed to be developed." (New York Times; free registration required)

Overview: August Report of Benefits Legislation Activity (PDF)
2 pages. (Milliman USA)

Emerging Issues Task Force Concludes Deliberations on Stock Compensation Project (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "Because it has become virtually impossible to keep track of all the restrictive provisions in the new guidance, perhaps a more efficient exercise is to summarize what remains permissible under the new rules. Here is our short list ..." (Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)

Description of Rep. Boehner's Workplace Employee Stock Option Act of 2002 (PDF)
Excerpt: "[The bill] would create a new type of stock option under Internal Revenue Code Section 423(d). The purpose of the bill is to promote broad-based company ownership through the use of employee stock options on a nondiscriminatory basis using pre-tax payroll deductions, similar to a 401(k) plan." (Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)

Accounting Board Resuming Debate on Stock Option Rules
Excerpt: "The board that sets U.S. accounting rules today reopens the debate on how companies treat the cost of stock options. At its Norwalk, Conn., headquarters, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) will consider a rule that, if enacted, could influence how many more companies elect to count options as an expense." (Washington Post)

Seasonal Benefits Cost Increases Outstrip Wage Hikes, BLS Reports
The most recent Employment Cost Index released by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that benefits costs in private industry continue to rise faster than salaries. According to the BLS's Employment Cost Index-June 2002, benefits costs for private industry workers increased 5.0% for the year ended June 30, 2002, an increase from 4.5% as of June 30, 2001. (Spencernet)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Life Insurance Specialist for SunTrust Bank
in FL
Account Administrator II for American Express Financial Advisors
in MN

Newly Posted Webcasts (Post Yours!)
Controlled Groups, Affiliated Service Groups, and Issues of Common Control on August 27, 2002
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Editor and Publisher: David Rhett Baker, J.D.