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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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September 10, 2002 - 7,257 subscribers
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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)

Justice Department To Increase Scrutiny of Health Plan Mergers
Excerpt: "Officials from the Justice Department's antitrust division at a Sept. 9 conference said they plan to increase 'scrutiny' of health insurance companies following a 'spate of mergers' in the last decade that may have reduced the number of competitors in the market, Reuters/Houston Chronicle reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Single Parents Fight a Label: 'Productivity Risk'
Excerpt: "A new American University Law School study shows businesswomen are rated as similar in competence to businessmen-- until they have children, at which point they are rated similar to the elderly.... This perception, say experts, has triggered a small wave of discrimination lawsuits. The university's study cites recent court decisions where mothers and fathers have successfully sued for workplace discrimination due to their status as parents." (The Christian Science Monitor via Society for Human Resource Management)

Paid Family Leave Bill is on California Governor's Desk
Excerpt: "Workers in California could be those first in the nation to collect disability pay for taking time off to care for an ill family member, under a bill now on the governor's desk.... [T]he proposed state law would allow workers to specifically take up to six weeks of paid leave to care for a new child, a seriously ill family member or a domestic partner, or to bond with a new foster or adopted child." (ChicoER.com)

Employer-Sponsored College Savings Plans-- An Attractive New Employee Benefit?
Excerpt: "College Savings Plans ('CSPs') that qualify under section 529 may be the single most tax-favored way to save. CSPs appear to be free of many Federal regulatory restraints ... [but] CSPs are subject to investment and administrative limitations and are currently provided in complex formats at unnecessarily high costs. A well-designed employer (or union) sponsored CSP may be the best way to overcome these limitations while continuing to provide the tax and savings benefits of CSPs." (Groom Law Group)

Purchasing Coalitions Begin To Move Toward Consumer-Driven Health Care Plans As An Option
Despite incentives for implementing consumer-driven health care plans, many companies have hesitated offering such arrangements to employees. With rising health insurance premiums, demand among enrollees for more control over benefits, and a favorable Internal Revenue Service decision on the use of health savings accounts, employers should be interested in these plans to help curtail their rising health care costs. (Spencernet)

Reducing the Costs of Poor-Quality Health Care Through Responsible Purchasing Leadership (PDF)
90 pages. Excerpt: "While a few of the strategies outlined in this report can be implemented by an individual employer, most of the initiatives require resources and expertise that are available only in very large organizations or through collaborative efforts. For that reason, the vast majority of companies should consider collaborating with others through business coalitions, associations, health plan user groups, and/or local employer associations." (Midwest Business Group on Health)

In California, Mental Health Care Grows in a Fractured System
Excerpt: "California's law requiring that health plans treat mental illnesses the same way they do physical illnesses could become a model for the nation, but its results here have been a mixed bag." (Sacramento Business Journal via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

Insurer Limits Kids' Access To Psychiatric Drugs
Excerpt: "For nearly a year, one of California's largest health plans, concerned about the growing use of psychiatric drugs in preschoolers, has been informing pediatricians that it will block their youngest patients' access to antipsychotics without a visit to a specialist. And Blue Cross of California -- with 171,000 members in the Sacramento area -- said this week that the upfront intervention with doctors seems to be working: The plan has had to withhold only a few prescriptions." (The Sacramento [Calif.] Bee)

Hospitals Averaged 40 Daily Medical Errors Each in Study of Colorado, Georgia Facilities
Excerpt: "A new study of hospitals has found an average of more than 40 'potentially harmful' medication errors per day, the AP/Baltimore Sun reports.... study, which focused on 'administering errors' made by nurses and other hospital staff members, found that the 'most common' errors included 'giving hospitalized patients medication at the wrong time or not at all,' the AP/Sun reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Congress, Bush Should Approve Mental Health Parity Legislation, Editorial Says
Excerpt: "Although 'time is getting short' and the congressional calendar is 'crowded,' Congress 'still should approve' a mental health parity bill, which President Bush should sign, a Washington Post editorial says." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Laid-off Workers to WorldCom: Pay Our Severance
Excerpt: "Laid-off WorldCom employees demanded Monday that the bankrupt telecommunications giant cough up tens of millions of dollars in severance and health benefits that were promised but not paid." (USA Today)



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

Siebel Systems Salvaging Sunken Options
Excerpt: "One leftover of the burst bubble in technology stocks is the existence of millions of employee stock options that are far out of the money.... [A]n innovative plan is being offered by Siebel Systems [whose share price is now $8.60, down 93 percent from its 2000 peak of $119.88] ... The plan allows employees with options that have exercise prices of $40 a share or higher to sell them back to the company for $1.85 an option." (New York Times; free registration required)

Commentary: Taking Apart Siebel's Bid for Employee Options
Excerpt: "Siebel Systems Inc.'s employees who own underwater stock options have an opportunity that's usually available only to the holders of options traded publicly, on an exchange. The world's largest maker of customer-service software is offering $1.85 a share for employee options having a strike price of $40 or more.... The fact that a Silicon Valley company followed [the Black-Scholes option pricing] model is absolutely stunning by itself." (Graef Crystal on Bloomberg.com)

Lost Stock Option Values -- Is Your Company at Risk for Employee Lawsuits?
Excerpt: "In the rush in the 90s to extend stock option plan eligibility to employees below the executive level, many companies may not have considered all the potential issues associated with granting stock options to such a broad group, and many of the option plans may have been drafted imprecisely.... In this article ... authors Robbi Fox and Lisa Bridges of Hewitt Associates discuss areas of potential employer liability ..." (Hewitt Associates)

Stock Options in Corporate Divestitures
Excerpt: "In this article ... authors Robbi Fox, Lisa Bridges, and Mike Jones of Hewitt Associates address the effect of spin-offs, IPOs, and divestitures on employee stock options and suggest different treatment options in accordance with tax and accounting laws." (Hewitt Associates)

Accounting Consequences of Joint Venture Employees Receiving or Holding Parent Company Stock Options
Excerpt: "[G]ranting parent company stock options to executives who are transferred to a joint venture is complex because of the potential negative accounting implications associated with such grants. In this article ... authors Robbi Fox and Lisa Bridges of Hewitt Associates outline considerations and provide advice on stock options for companies considering a joint venture." (Hewitt Associates)




Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad


Pension Administrator
for Means & Associates, LLC in CA

Associate - Insurance Services - Deerfield, IL
for Mullin Consulting, Inc. in IL

Pension Administrator
for LAR Pensions, LLC in CT

Pensions/401(k) ERISA Compliance Specialist
for Pensioncareers Ltd. in NJ, NY

Institutional Pension Consultant
for TIAA-CREF in MA

Business Analyst
for INVESCO Retirement, Inc. in GA

Financial Transactions Specialist
for ExpertPlan, Inc. in NJ

Actuarial Assistant
for The Pension Service, Inc. in CT

Operations Analyst
for Fanning Personnel in MA

Pension Plan Administrator
for Elliott Davis, LLC in SC

Defined Contribution (DC) Plan Administrator
for The Ross Companies in NY

Business Development Associate
for Wells Fargo Retirement Plan Services, Inc. (Milwaukee, WI) in WI

Benefits Administrators
for Natl corporations in NYC - represented by BLB Consulting Inc Search firm in NY


Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)


Cross-Tested Plans Specialty Workshops
in CO on October 24, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Cross-Tested Plans Specialty Workshops
in TX on October 23, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Cross-Tested Plans Specialty Workshops
in CA on October 25, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Cross-Tested Plans Specialty Workshops
in MO on November 6, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Cross-Tested Plans Specialty Workshops
in IL on November 7, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Cross-Tested Plans Specialty Workshops
in MN on November 8, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Cross-Tested Plans Specialty Workshops
in NC on November 14, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Cross-Tested Plans Specialty Workshops
in PA on November 14, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Cross-Tested Plans Specialty Workshops
in MA on November 15, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Cross-Tested Plans Specialty Workshops
in GA on November 15, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans Specialty Workshops
in TX on October 23, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans Specialty Workshops
in CO on October 24, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans Specialty Workshops
in CA on October 25, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans Specialty Workshops
in MO on November 6, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans Specialty Workshops
in IL on November 7, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans Specialty Workshops
in MN on November 8, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans Specialty Workshops
in NC on November 14, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans Specialty Workshops
in PA on November 14, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans Specialty Workshops
in MA on November 15, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans Specialty Workshops
in GA on November 15, 2002
presented by SunGard Corbel

NTSAA: Up the Ante . . . Knowledge is Power
in MS on February 27, 2003
presented by National Tax Sheltered Accounts Association


Newly Posted Press Releases (Post Yours!)


Two-Step Software Delivers the First Complete On-Line Minute Book - Includes Improved Stock Option Tracking
(Two-Step Software)

SunGard Corbel Releases EGTRRA Updated Multimedia Learning
(SunGard Corbel)

PlanMember Services Corporation Enhances Trust Bank Offering
(PlanMember Financial Corporation)

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