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October 22, 2002 - 7,425 subscribers
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(Help BenefitsLink to provide this newsletter at no charge to you -- our sponsors pay your way. Remember to visit them periodically; we try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. Thanks! --Editor)
Bush Plan to Increase Generic Drugs Draws Flak
Excerpt: "Rules that President Bush proposed yesterday to make it easier for Americans to buy generic drugs were swiftly challenged by key lawmakers and consumer representatives, who contended that the plan would not adequately rein in the pharmaceutical industry, was politically timed and might not go into effect for years -- if at all." (Washington Post)

Lawmakers, Groups Respond to Bush Administration Proposal To Speed Market Entry of Generic Drugs
Excerpt: "As expected, President Bush on Oct. 21 announced new regulations that would hasten the approval of generic drugs by reducing the period of time that patents can protect brand-name medications from competition, the New York Times reports. In announcing the new rules, Bush 'join[s] a chorus of critics' who claim that brand-name pharmaceutical companies have raised drug prices and stifled competition from lower-cost generics ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Audio Excerpt: Bush Moves to Speed Generic Drug Approval Process
Excerpt: "President Bush announces new regulations aimed at speeding the approval process for low-cost generic drugs. The president says the changes would make it more harder for brand-name drug makers to exploit loopholes. NPR's Don Gonyea reports. Oct. 21, 2002." (National Public Radio)

Opinion: Mr. Bush Changes Sides on Generic Drugs Issue
Excerpt: "President Bush moved in the right direction yesterday when he proposed rules that would make it easier to sell cheap generic drugs.... [T]he brand-name companies have deployed legal maneuvers to extend their patents beyond the intended expiration, frustrating the price-cutters. If Mr. Bush renders some of those maneuvers illegal, health plans and consumers will save billions of dollars." (Washington Post)

Analysis: DHHS Appoints CMS to Enforce HIPAA's Transaction and Code Set Standards
Excerpt: "DHHS has announced that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will be responsible for enforcing the transaction and code set standards that are part of the administrative simplification provisions of HIPAA. (CMS is currently responsible for enforcing HIPAA's portability provisions.)" (EBIA Weekly)

Oral Notice of Rights Under COBRA Was Sufficient To Satisfy ERISA: Eighth Circuit
The provision of oral notice to a former employee of her right to continuation of health care coverage under COBRA was sufficient to satisfy the notice requirements of ERISA. This was the ruling of the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Chesnut v. Montgomery (No. 02-1243). (SpencerNet)

Analysis: Plan's Case Against Participant's COBRA Fraud Not Preempted by ERISA
AFTRA Health Fund v. Biondi, __ F. 3d __ (7th Cir., Sept. 6, 2002). Excerpt: "A plan participant who concealed his divorce to keep the former wife in his multiemployer health plan as an active participant, rather than pay COBRA premiums, can be sued for state common law fraud by the health plan according to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. But plan fiduciaries have no equitable remedy against the participant under ERISA." (Deloitte & Touche Human Capital Advisory Services)

"Slap-Dash" Booklet Treated as Plan Document; Disability Benefits Described in Booklet Vested
Feifer v. Prudential Ins. (2d Cir. 2002). Excerpt: "For the period during which the Summary was the only document describing the plan, the court held that the Summary was the plan itself and not an SPD. The court noted that ERISA requires that every employee benefit plan be established and maintained pursuant to a written instrument, a requirement that cannot be avoided by treating a written document as merely a summary of a plan that is nowhere else in writing." (EBIA Weekly)

Release by Employees of "Any and All" Claims Covered ERISA Severance Claim
Chaplin v. NationsCredit (5th Cir. 2002). Excerpt: "In this appeal, the Fifth Circuit agreed with the trial court (and with a cited case from the Seventh Circuit) that the employees' ERISA claims were barred by the general releases they had signed." (EBIA Weekly)

Voluntary Employee-Paid LTD Plan Is Subject to ERISA Due to Employer's Control Over Plan Terms
Nicholas v. Standard Ins. Co. (6th Cir. 2002). Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: This case caught our attention for two reasons. First, it demonstrates the difficulties that can be created where an employer selects voluntary plan insurers and/or negotiates about plan terms or design, since this can be enough by itself to show employer endorsement." (EBIA Weekly)

Administrative Committee v. Varco: ERISA Plan Fiduciary May Pursue Reimbursement Claim
Administrative Committee v. Varco, No. 01-C-8277 (N.D. Ill. 10/2/2002). Excerpt: "The court held that it had jurisdiction under ERISA because the Plan sought funds that were within [plaintiff] Varco's possession.... The court held, however, that while the Plan is entitled to reimbursement, it 'must bear its proportional share of [the plaintiff's attorney's] fee,' due to the Seventh Circuit's holdings that ERISA does not preempt a state's common fund doctrine." (Lawrence & Russell, LLP)

Momentum for Paid Leave Grows
Excerpt: "From Vermont to Hawaii, states are hopping on the paid family leave bandwagon, with California leading the way. The Golden State in September created a sweeping new program that will pay workers half their salaries when they take time off to care for sick family members or newborns. California's program is the first of its kind in the country and is entirely funded by workers through a payroll tax." (StateLine.org)

Binghamton Press Examines New York State Small Businesses Trying to Provide Health Insurance
Excerpt: "The Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin on Oct. 21 examined the ways small businesses in Broome County, N.Y., are attempting to provide health insurance to their employees. A Center for Studying Health System Change report released last week found that small businesses -- those with 50 or fewer employees -- experienced increases of 14.5% in health insurance premiums last year ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Texas Business Groups Offer Web Site to Compare Health Costs
Excerpt: "Two Texas business groups today launched a Web site to help employers compare quality of care and hospital costs for various procedures, but some argue that the charges are unrelated to what people actually pay and that it's unlikely consumers will make decisions based on the data, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports." (iHealthBeat.com; free registration required)

Claims Processor Establishes Program To Allow Plan Beneficiaries To Purchase Drugs From Canada
Excerpt: "SPC Global Technologies, a health claims processor based in Temple, Texas, has established a new program that will allow as many as 20,000 individuals enrolled in SPC client health plans to import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada, the Wall Street Journal reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

National Journal Examines November Election's Potential Effect on Health Issues
Excerpt: "The current issue of National Journal examines the impact that the outcome of next month's elections could have on a number of health care issues ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Washington Post Features Oregon Universal Care Ballot Initiative
Excerpt: "The Washington Post on Oct. 21 examined Measure 23, an initiative on the upcoming November ballot in Oregon that would institute the first universal care system in the country.... If the measure is approved, the state would be required to implement a universal care system ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)



Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Canada to Force Companies to Expense Stock Options
Excerpt: "Canada's accounting regulator is planning to force companies to start treating employee stock options as a business expense, a rare instance of it setting tougher standards than its U.S. counterpart. The directors of the Accounting Standards Board (AcSB), Canada's standard-setter of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), approved the new rule at a meeting last week with it expected to take effect as early as next summer." (Reuters via Yahoo! News)




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

Pension Administrator
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in NY

Director, Medical Stop Loss Claims and Administration
for StarLine Group
in MA

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Benefits Analyst
for Southeastern Employee Benefit Services, Inc., Winston - Salem, NC
in NC


Newly Posted Webcasts (Post Yours!)

Employee Benefit Plan Changes You Need to Make Before Year End
on October 29, 2002
presented by Winston & Strawn


Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)

Employee Benefits Law and Practice Update
in
November 7, 2002
ALI-ABA

Employee Benefits Litigation
in CA
January 16, 2003
ALI-ABA

ERISA Insights
in MD
November 25, 2002
McKay Hochman

Public Fund Boards Forum - The Premiere Education and Networking Forum
in CA
November 9, 2002
Institute for International Research

Coordination of Leave Strategies Audio Conference
in
November 18, 2002
Thompson Publishing Group


Newly Posted Press Releases (Post Yours!)

Latest HIPAA Compliance Regulations Included in Revised Manual
(International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

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