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November 27, 2002 - 8,019 subscribers
Today's sponsor: NCEO

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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)
Appeals Court Rejects Utility's Interpretation of Unemployment Benefits Law
Excerpt: "Workers don't lose their rights to unemployment compensation when they waive future claims against former employers in exchange for severance, a federal appeals court has ruled. Although the practice of seeking such waivers from fired, laid off or retiring workers is relatively common, interpreting a claim to mean filing for state unemployment compensation is not." (The Houston Chronicle via the Society for Human Resource Management)

5th Cir.: Texas Law Prohibiting Waivers of Unemployment Compensation Is Not Preempted by ERISA (PDF)
Mitchell Energy & Development Corporation v. Fain, No. 01-21265 (5th Cir. 11/19/02). Excerpt: "Because ERISA does not preempt TEX. LAB. CODE § 207.071, signatories of the [voluntary incentive retirement program] did not release claims for unemployment compensation." (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, via FindLaw.com)

CIGNA HealthCare Reaches Agreement with Physicians to Improve Relations and End Lawsuits
Press release. Excerpt: "CIGNA HealthCare announced today that it has reached an agreement to resolve bill payment claims brought on behalf of physicians and other health care providers in state and federal courts.... As part of the agreement, Appoint a third-party administrator to review certain claims that were denied since January 1, 1996, to determine whether they should be paid ..." (PR Newswire via NewsAlert.com)

Audio Excerpt: Hospitals Charge Higher Drug Prices, Study Says
Excerpt: "A study released by the California Nurses Association finds that hospitals dramatically mark up the price of medication when they bill insurance companies for patient care. Some hospitals mark up prices by 700 percent. NPR's Patricia Neighmond reports. (Nov. 26, 2002)" (National Public Radio)

Low-Cost Generics Gain Ground On Giant Pharmaceutical Firms
12/2/02 issue. Excerpt: "Bush announced regulatory changes aimed at making the progress of generics to the market quicker and more reliable. Big Pharma's loss was, of course, a gain for the generic drug business and for the little-known Israel-based company that is its global leader, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries." (U.S. News and World Report)

New Federal Legislation May Aid Steel Retirees
Excerpt: "The Trade Adjustment Assistance Reform Act may be a partial solution to legacy costs -- a vexing problem keeping bankrupt steel companies from finding a way out of Chapter 11. Health care benefits for retirees and laid off steelworkers are a major stumbling block to both reorganization and consolidation." (The [Munster, Ind.] Times, via NewsAlert.com)

HHS to Help States Insure High-Risk Individuals
Excerpt: "In an effort to decrease the ranks of the uninsured, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Tuesday announced that it would provide states with financial assistance to support the creation of high-risk insurance pools." (Reuters Health via Yahoo! News)

GAO Report on Health Insurance: States' Protections and Programs Benefit Some Unemployed Individuals
39 pages. Excerpt: "Because rising unemployment can adversely affect individuals' health insurance status, GAO was asked to review the policies of six states with significant recent increases in unemployment to ... identify protections in place that assist unemployed individuals in maintaining or obtaining health insurance coverage ..." (U.S. General Accounting Office)

Office of Managed Care Patient Assistance Opens in North Carolina
Excerpt: "North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley (D) on Nov. 25 opened a new Office of Managed Care Patient Assistance in the state Department of Justice as part of a patients' rights law enacted last October, the AP/Raleigh News & Observer reports ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Identity Theft on the Rise; Make Sure Benefits Department Is Not Part of the Problem
Excerpt: "Four years ago, identity theft wasn't even designated a crime; today, it's a felony under the federal Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 and ranks as the nation's top consumer fraud complaint, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in Washington, D.C." (HR Magazine)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Technical Specialist - Retirement - QPA
for Edward Jones
in MO

Pension Administrator
for CNA Trust
in IL

Trust Admin.-Employee Benefits
for Hancock Bank
in MS

Benefit & Communication Representative
for American United Life Insurance Company
in NC

Senior Benefits Specialist
for Diversified Entertainment Company
in CT, NJ, NY

Compliance Specialist in retirement and health plan administration
for Suburban Denver office of a national consulting and actuarial firm
in CO

Plan Administrator
for Interactive Retirement Systems, Ltd.
in MN

Conversion Consultant
for CNA Trust
in CA

Retirement Services Specialist
for Northern Trust Retirement Consulting, L.L.C.
in WA

Newly Posted Conferences
(Post Yours!)

HIPAA Compliance Strategy Seminar
in CA
December 12, 2002
ArlenGroup and Thelen Reid & Priest LLP

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

(Franklin Templeton Investments)

Franklin Templeton Renews Agreement with Morningstar, Makes Morningstar® ClearFuture® Guidance Available to 868,400 Retirement Plan Participants
(Franklin Templeton Investments)

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