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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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August 9, 2002 - 6,490 subscribers
Today's sponsor: EBIA's COBRA: The Developing Law

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(Help BenefitsLink to provide this newsletter at no charge to you -- our sponsors pay our way. Remember to visit them periodically; we try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. Thanks! --Editor)

Health Privacy Rules Might Be Finalized Today
Excerpt: "Long-anticipated and controversial changes to medical privacy rules -- which critics say fall short of protecting patients -- might be finalized today by the Bush administration." (USA Today)

Kennedy's E-Health Act Would 'Do Little' To Improve Health Care Operations, Says Group
Excerpt: "Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D-Mass.) e-Health Act of 2002 would not achieve the efficiencies in the health care industry that it seeks, the Health Information and Management Systems Society said in a letter sent to Kennedy last week. Provisions in the bill, which would require hospitals to use computer physician order entry (CPOE) and health plans to automate claims processing, could further complicate health care administration ... according to the letter." (iHealthBeat.com; free registration required)

Federal Judge Dismisses Schering-Plough's Argument To Extend Patent for Claritin
Excerpt: "Patients who take Claritin metabolize the active ingredient of the treatment into the active ingredient of Clarinex, which has patent protection until 2004. Schering-Plough attorneys argued that 'anyone swallowing a generic version of Claritin would create Clarinex in their body without the company's permission,' the [WS] Journal reports. In addition, they said that drug companies that market generic versions of Claritin would 'induce patients into undertaking this infringement' ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Drug Trade Association Adopts New Marketing Code
Excerpt: "A new marketing code written by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) to govern the industry's relationships with physicians and other healthcare professionals went into effect last month. 'The new code makes it crystal clear that the interactions of company sales representatives with healthcare professionals are to benefit patients and enhance the practice of medicine,' said PhRMA President Alan F. Holmer." (Medscape; free registration required)

Prescription Drug Issue Goes To California State Senate
Excerpt: "A Senate bill introduced this week would give the state more muscle in the battle between patients and HMOs over prescription drug coverage denials.... While the bill doesn't spell out which drugs should be covered, it gives the state the ability to oversee a plan's drug coverage and review cases in which a drug is excluded." (The San Francisco Chronicle)

Welcome to new BenefitsLink advertiser Healthcare Data Management
Excerpt: "Healthcare Data Management helps self-insured employers reduce the cost of paying medical and pharmacy claims through auditing services. HDM will hold third party administrators and pharmacy benefits managers accountable for expenditures and performance. HDM makes sure you get what you pay for when purchasing health care coverage for employees. Since 1992 HDM has been helping employers save money on health benefits and derive intelligence from healthcare data."

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

Commentary: Expensing the Cost of Stock Options-- What's an Employer to Do?
Excerpt: "[O]ur research clearly and consistently documents that a company's executive pay levels are directly and positively correlated with its financial performance.... Companies need to regain investor confidence but if they overreact and cut way back on their stock option plans to save the accounting expense-- without replacing them with other stock incentives or forms of pay-- they could inflict real economic damage by lowering the motivation and performance of their key employees." (Watson Wyatt)

Sarbanes-Oxley Accelerates Deadline for Section 16 Reports, Starting August 29
Excerpt: "Although the SEC is still considering rules that may provide some exceptions to the two business day filing requirement, it is likely that most stock transactions, including stock-based compensation plan transactions such as option grants, cancellations and repricings, will be subject to the accelerated reporting deadline." (Faegre and Benson LLP)

Stock Options Pit Firms vs. Regulators
Excerpt: "With regulators and lawmakers torn on the issue, companies are making their own rules, and 43 have recently said they plan to count option expenses. But many of those companies aren't hurt very much by the accounting change." (USA Today)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Senior Sales Representative - Retirement Plan Services for Harris Bank, part of Bank of Montreal U.S. Group of Companies
in IL
Compliance Analyst for New York Life Benefit Services LLC
in MA
Retirement Plan Coordinator for American Funds
in IN
Employee Benefits Specialist for Pennsylvania Hospital
in PA
Public Sector Consultant for The Segal Company
in DC

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Editor and Publisher: David Rhett Baker, J.D.