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October 24, 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)
UnumProvident Responds to MSNBC Dateline Story on Disability Claims
Click on gold oval labeled, 'Click here for response to recent media coverage.' Excerpt: "1. We do not set targets for closing valid claims.... 2. The vast majority of both current and former employees are supportive of our claims practices and the integrity of our company.... 3. We do not believe that the facts suggest any serious problems with our claims process relative to the review being finalized with the Georgia Department of Insurance." (UnumProvident)

VEBAs, Welfare Plans, and Sec. 419A(f)(6): Is the IRS Trying to Regulate or Spread Propaganda? (PDF)
54 pages; working paper. Excerpt: "Although there are socially useful reasons for having VEBAs and protecting the ability of small businesses using VEBAs to provide the much needed welfare benefits ... there is the potential for misuse and schemes by those seeking only to evade taxes.... Although VEBAs fell into disfavor as a tax-planning device initially as a result of [DEFRA in 1984], Congress left an exception in the law for so-called multiple-employer VEBAs." (Attorney John J. Koresko V and Prof. Jennifer S. Martin)

DOL, Union at Loggerheads Over Employee Benefit
Excerpt: "A dispute over boosting the transit subsidy benefit for federal employees has led to a standoff between Labor Department officials and the union representing employees at Labor headquarters in Washington." (GovExec.com)

Treasury Clarifies View on 'Readily Available' Transit Passes
Excerpt: "The Treasury Department's position on whether transit passes are considered readily available when a voucher provider imposes no fees or other restrictions was recently clarified by Treasury Acting Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Pamela F. Olson." (Thompson Publishing Group)

Most Consumers Have Little Incentive To Purchase Medicines Abroad
Excerpt: "While purchasing less-expensive drugs from Canada might be an attractive option for seniors and people without drug coverage, the majority of Americans 'have little reason' to do so, the Wall Street Journal reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Drug Industry Spending for Congressional Races Outpaces That of Liberal Groups
Excerpt: "The number of 'independent' political advertisements in support of Republicans has 'overwhelm[ed]' ads from traditionally 'big-spending' liberal groups in part because of increased campaign spending by the pharmaceutical industry, the Washington Post reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

HMO's Challenge: How to Manage Chronic Diseases
Excerpt: "As health-care costs continue to climb into the double digits, managing chronic diseases like diabetes has become the next frontier for health plans, insurers, medical groups and health purchasers trying to contain costs. 'The opportunities are immense,' said Kaiser Permanente CEO George Halvorson. 'If you deliver care consistently, you can reduce complications, improve the quality of life for patients and reduce the cost of care.'" (San Francisco Business Times via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

Alternative and Complementary Medicine Project Oversight Group: Report on First Data Source
Excerpt: "[T]he report described in the next section is based upon only the first data submission and while the observations are of interest, the Project Oversight Group was unable to develop any credible conclusions based upon this data alone.... CAM-only users were primarily male and had the lowest average medical claim costs." (Society of Actuaries)

Oregon's Universal Care Ballot Initiative a 'Risky Experiment,' WSJ Editorial Says
Excerpt: "Oregon residents will become 'guinea pigs' in a 'failed experiment' in the event that state voters approve Measure 23, which would establish a tax-funded, single-payer health care system, according to a Wall Street Journal editorial ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Opinion: United Seniors Association-- Hired Guns for PhRMA
Excerpt: "Though the United Seniors Association (USA) is a conservative, grassroots organization for the elderly, the organization is just as likely to be flacking for corporate special interests as it is to be representing seniors. And as the debate on Medicare prescription drug coverage gears up to become a major federal election issue, the pharmaceutical industry is using USA as a front for its TV and radio 'issue' ad campaigns." (Public Citizen)

OIG Draft Pharma Compliance Guidance Could Raise Problems for PBMs, Payers
Excerpt: "The latest compliance program guidance issued by the HHS Office of Inspector General may not be aimed at PBMs or their health insurance clients, but both may find their pharmacy benefit management practices under scrutiny, experts warn." (Managed Care Week via AISHealth.com)

Actively Managing Drug Benefits Reduces Trend, But It Still Was 14% In 2001, Medco Study Finds
Actively managing prescription drug benefits reduces the drug trend for plan sponsors, but unmanaged prescription drug benefits costs will continue to rise at rates higher than 15% per year, according to a recent study of results for clients of the pharmacy benefit management firm Medco Health Solutions. The average drug trend for Medco Health Solutions clients in 2001 was 14%, compared with a national retail spending increase of more than 17%. (Spencernet)

Welcome to new BenefitsLink advertiser Benefit Administration, Inc.
Excerpt: "For all your Cafeteria Plan and Health Reimbursement Plan designs, implementation, education and administration check out our web site at www.benefitnet.biz. Questions? e-mail us a info@benefitnet.biz or call toll free 1-877-292-4827."



Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

2002 Report of the Subcommittee on Benefit Claims
29 pages; presented on February 14-16, 2002. This Microsoft Word document is a supplement to a chapter of the highly-regarded employee benefits treatise published by the American Bar Association's Section of Labor and Employment Law, Employee Benefits Subcommittee. (ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law, Employee Benefits Subcommittee)

Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration Issues Annual Performance Plan for Fiscal Year 2003
Excerpt: "Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration has established the following agency goals that support the Administration's priorities of shifting the emphasis of regulatory programs from after-the-fact enforcement to compliance assistance and prevention and ensuring the security of workers' retirement programs and benefits ..." (U.S. Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration)

Audio Excerpt: SEC to Appoint Board Overseeing Accounting Industry
Excerpt: "As the SEC prepares to appoint a new panel to oversee the embattled accounting industry, some criticize the process as being too politicized. Hear NPR's Jack Speer and Jeffrey Birnbaum of Fortune magazine. Oct. 23, 2002." (National Public Radio)

S&P Says 'Core Earnings' of Corporations 45% Less Than Reported, Due to Stock Options and Pensions
Excerpt: "Pension and stock option accounting helped boost reported earnings at big U.S. companies by about 45 per cent in the year to June, according to Standard & Poor's. S&P will on Thursday publish its calculation of 'core earnings' for the S&P 500, the blue-chip index of the largest U.S. companies. It deducts stock option costs from reported earnings, and excludes adjusted pension income." (Financial Times via Yahoo! Finance)




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

Pension Administrator
for The Benefits Consulting Group
in IL

Employee Benefits Account Executive Trainee (Sales)
for The Protector Group Insurance Agency, Inc.
in MA

Employee Benefits Account Executive (Sales)
for The Protector Group Insurance Agency, Inc.
in CT, MA, NH, RI

401(k) Plan Administrators
for PFPC
in MN

Human Resources Division Manager 67k to 89k
for The County of Riverside
in CA


Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)

PPOs, THE NEW MANAGED CARE ALTERNATIVE
in GA
November 21, 2002
WEB Atlanta Chapter


Newly Posted Press Releases (Post Yours!)

Second Annual Summit For 401(K) Sales Professionals Expected To Be Another Sold-Out Event
(American Society of Pension Actuaries (ASPA))

ASPA And The IRS To Host Employee Benefits Conference
(American Society of Pension Actuaries (ASPA))

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