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September 17, 2002 - 7,276 subscribers
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ABC News Examines Ability of Patients To Understand Medical Materials
Excerpt: "An estimated one in three U.S. residents has 'low health literacy,' or a limited ability to read and comprehend medical information, ABCNews' 'World News Tonight' reported Sept. 16." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Reimporting Prescription Drugs from Other Countries Dangerous, Report Says
Excerpt: "Several bills in Congress that would allow consumers and businesses to reimport prescription drugs would 'jeopardize ... health but also decrease pharmaceutical profits and eventually raise ... costs,' according to a report released Sept. 16, CongressDaily reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Commentary: Retiree Health Benefits-- Time to Resuscitate?
Excerpt: "To ensure that retirees don't find themselves unable to pay for health care when they're likely to need it most-- and when incomes are usually fixed-- we must act now. Employers and employees need to plan ahead, and employees need to become educated and cost-conscious consumers of medical care. Congress needs to remedy tax and accounting policies that discourage employers from sponsoring retiree medical plans, and enact reforms to Medicare." (Watson Wyatt)

IRS Updates Website Regarding Frequently-Asked Questions About Dependent Care
Excerpt: "The IRS has recently updated its website containing frequently-asked questions (FAQs) about the dependent care credit under Code Section 21 ('the Credit') and [Dependent Care Assistance Programs] under Code Section 129.... EBIA Comment: [T]he FAQs do not reflect changes made by EGTRRA and JCWAA to the Credit that take effect in 2003." (EBIA Weekly)

Cancellation of Group Health Coverage During COBRA Election Period Did Not Violate COBRA
Reuther v. Smith (E.D. La. 2002). Excerpt: "This case applies a settled principle of COBRA law: although COBRA coverage generally must be provided retroactive to the date that a qualified beneficiary loses plan coverage as the result of a qualifying event, a plan is not required to provide COBRA coverage until after a timely COBRA election and initial premium payment have been made." (EBIA Weekly)

Work Hours Lost Pursuing Successful Grievance Don't Count Towards FMLA, Court Rules
Plumley V. S. Container, Inc., No. 01-2747 (1st Cir. Sep. 13, 2002). FindLaw's summary: 'Compensation awarded for work-hours lost during an employee's successful pursuit of a grievance should not count as 'hours of service' within the meaning of the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. sections 2601-2654." (U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, via FindLaw.com)

DOL Finds Union-Sponsored Fund Covering Non-Union Employees to Be a MEWA
Excerpt: "In this Information Letter, the DOL addressed whether ERISA preempted state regulation of a union-sponsored fund providing medical and other ERISA benefits to the employees of several participating employers.... The issue was whether or not the fund was a MEWA. MEWAs are subject to state regulation under a special ERISA preemption rule ..." (EBIA Weekly)

California Family Leave Bill Awaits Governor's Decision
Excerpt: "Under a bill awaiting Gov. Gray Davis' signature or veto, California would create the first state insurance program to replace part of employees' wages when they stay home to nurture a baby or help a seriously ill child, parent, spouse or domestic partner.... 'The right to leave is meaningless if a worker can't afford it,' says California state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, a Democrat who authored the paid-leave bill." (USA Today via Yahoo! News)

Wall Street Journal Examines New Ways Consumers Are Appealing Health Coverage Denials
Excerpt: "The Wall Street Journal on Sept. 17 looks at '[n]ew channels of appeal both within health plans and outside [that] are making it easier for patients to press their case' with insurance companies. A 'backlash against health insurers' has led the companies to draw back from 'aggressive strategies' to refuse claims or treatments, the Journal reports ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

U.S. Mental Health System Struggles To Provide Even Basic Care, Study Says
Excerpt: "The mental health system in the United States is in 'crisis, unable to provide even the most basic services and supports to people with psychiatric disabilities,' according to a federal report released Sept. 16. According to the report, the 'fundamental problem' with the system is the emphasis on medicating people rather than helping them lead productive lives ... (KaiserNetwork.org)

Analysis: Congress Struggles with Prescription Drug Coverage
Excerpt: "Once again, Congress is struggling over prescription drug issues, including price increases and coverage for Medicare beneficiaries. Discussions are under way in both chambers of Congress, but the House and Senate are taking different approaches, making compromise unlikely." (Watson Wyatt)

HIPAA Privacy Rules Will Impact Drug Marketing
Excerpt: "Increasingly, pharmaceutical and medical device companies are looking at television and print ads as just the beginning of their relationship with consumers. The next steps many are taking is direct-to-consumer targeting via mail, e-mail and the Internet." (Memphis Business Journal via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

Privacy Again - Only This Time It's For Medical Records and Most Employers Have to Comply
Excerpt: "[B]y April 14, 2003, thousands of employers not in healthcare but representing virtually every other segment of our economy and work force will have to comply with at least some portion of HIPAA. The spectrum of compliance is wide-ranging, covering companies that have self-insured group plans-- these are directly covered under HIPAA-- and even employers that simply sponsor a health plan for employees." (Nixon Peabody LLP)



Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: NYSE and Nasdaq Governance Rule Proposals Under Review At SEC (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "These proposals address a wide variety of governance issues, many of which involve executive compensation. Most importantly, the proposals address the long disputed rules applicable to shareholder approval of equity compensation plans. This letter provides a summary of the compensation issues and their potential implications." (Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)

Side-by-Side Comparison of NYSE and Nasdaq Corporate Accountability Standards
September 2002. (Watson Wyatt)

CEO Perks: From Tuition to Bodyguard
Excerpt: "It's not just corporate jets.... A look at some [CEO] perks that companies [reported] makes interesting reading." (New York Times; free registration required)

Commentary: Reigning in the Imperial CEO
Excerpt: "[B]oards are facing greater pressure to renege on severance deals when executives depart, knowing that unusually deluxe deals might draw the attention of investors or regulators." (New York Times; free registration required)

Another Question is Answered in the Stock Options, Restricted Stock and Other Long-Term Employment Incentives Q&A Column
How do I find out if the stock options I am being offered are legitimate? I have just a few days to accept a job offer that includes a stock option to buy 8,000 shares at 25% vesting per year for 4 years, but the company is still funded by private investors ... what's up with that? (BenefitsLink.com)




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

Financial Analyst - Los Angeles, CA and Deerfield, IL
for Mullin Consulting, Inc.
in CA, IL

Plan Administrator
for Alliance Benefit Group of New England
in NH

Pension Administrator
for CNA Trust
in IL

Technical Specialist - Retirement Ops - Qualified Plan Service Team
for Edward Jones
in MO

Enrolled Actuary-Plan Administrator
for Local Accounting Firm-Atlanta
in GA

Benefits Outsourcing Program Manager
for Fidelity Investments - Marlborough, Massachusetts
in MA

401(k) Plan Administrator (JO#324)
for a Third Party Administration Firm in CA
in CA


Newly Posted Webcasts (Post Yours!)

The Latest in Plan Design
on September 18, 2002
presented by ASPA - the American Society of Pension Actuaries

Practical Tips on Participant Loans
on September 12, 2002
presented by ASPA - the American Society of Pension Actuaries


Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)

Symposium on the Future of Employee Benefits Law
in IL
October 11, 2002
The Center for Tax Law and Employee Benefits at the John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Illinois

ERISA: A Practitioner's Guide
in MA
October 28, 2002
LexisNexis(tm) and the Mealey Publication & Conferences Group

HIPAA and Other Health Laws: Compliance Assistance Seminar
in VT
September 19, 2002
U.S. Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration

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