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December 23, 2002 - 8,030 subscribers
Today's sponsor: NCEO

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   Our Bookstore now carries books published by the NCEO!

   The National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO), a nonprofit
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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)
Who Says Blue Collar Workers Won't Use the Web for Benefits Enrollment?
Excerpt: "[W]ith two-thirds of its workforce squarely in the blue-collar category, New Jersey-based energy company Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) has managed to achieve a 93% benefits enrollment rate via the Internet. Nearly all benefits communications, including summary plan descriptions, are distributed exclusively online." (BenefitNews.com)

Preventive Care Coverage: How Well Is It Described in Plan Documents?
Oct. 2002 issue of Monthly Labor Review Online. Excerpt: "Provisions in medical care plans that emphasize coverage for preventive care tests have risen sharply in recent years. The attention generated by such preventive care measures as cancer screening and cholesterol tests led the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) ... to determine if employer health insurance documents specifically describe certain medical provisions." (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Analysis: Fifth Circuit Finds Texas Independent Review Statute Is Not Preempted by ERISA
Excerpt: "In light of the Rush [v. Moran U.S. Supreme Court] decision, this development comes as no surprise. Once the Fifth Circuit determined that the Texas and Illinois laws were functionally equivalent, it was bound by the Supreme Court's conclusions. It is helpful that the Fifth Circuit reiterated its earlier conclusions that state independent review laws are preempted with respect to self-insured ERISA plans, since nothing in the Rush decision would require a different result." (EBIA Weekly)

Wal-Mart Continuing to Deal with Contraceptives Lawsuit
Excerpt: "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. may ring in the new year aiming to resolve a class-action lawsuit filed here in Atlanta." (Atlanta Business Chronicle via bizjournals.com)

Understanding Corporate Disability Buy-Ups
Excerpt: "This article explains how CPAs can help employers negotiate group disability buy-up policies that offer executives more monthly income-replacement coverage tax-free and at less cost to the company.... The rise in compensation over the last decade, combined with the acknowledgement that the highest paid employees are the least insured, has prompted a number of insurers to develop supplemental group disability plans, which are popularly known as disability buy-ups." (Journal of Accountancy)

California State Leave Law Will Add Paid Time Off
Excerpt: "Called family temporary disability insurance, and signed by Gov. Gray Davis on Sept. 25, the new law requiring paid leave greatly expands the state's disability insurance program. Under the new law, employees across California will be eligible to take up to six weeks off to care for a sick child, parent, spouse or domestic partner. Workers on leave would get about 55 percent of their normal pay -- the same as if they were on disability themselves." (The Oakland [Calif.] Tribune)

Adult Daycare Concerns Impacting More Careers
Excerpt: "Adult day care serves as a critical link in the nation's long-term care system by providing daytime oversight for frail, demented or disabled elders.... Only 39% of adult day-care centers offer the extended hours working caregivers need ..." (CareerJournal.com)

IRS Describes Tax Treatment of Employer Payments to Employees Affected by Flood (HTML)
Rev. Rul. 2003-12. Excerpt: "An area within state ST was affected by a flood that was a Presidentially declared disaster as defined in § 1033(h)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.... Employer R makes grants to its employees who are affected by the flood ... The grants will pay or reimburse employees for medical, temporary housing, and transportation expenses they incur as a result of the flood that are not compensated for by insurance or otherwise." (Internal Revenue Service)

Insurers Push Generics as Remedy for Rising Costs
Excerpt: "Drug makers have been building demand for their brands with power marketing aimed squarely at consumers. Now insurers and other groups are mounting aggressive counter-campaigns, touting cheaper generics instead.... More patients will get letters extolling the therapeutic equivalence and cost savings of generics. Their doctors may get letters, too, along with phone calls or visits from insurers." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch via Society for Human Resource Management)

Pearls from Across the Pond: European Ideas for Improving Patient Safety in the U.S.
Excerpt: "At a November meeting of the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua) in Paris, researchers and public health experts from Europe to Australia spoke about the patient safety challenges in their home countries and their first initiatives to address the problem. This is a significant shift in focus from just five years ago, when the emphasis was on disease-specific quality assurance rather than overall patient safety." (iHealthBeat.org; free registration required)

Opinion: Corporate America Deserves More for its Healthcare Dollars
Excerpt: "Corporate America's problem is that it has never managed human resources departments (which are responsible for health care) the same way it manages the rest of its business.... But that is not enough. Corporate America must also drive comprehensive health care reform by demanding better, more cost-effective solutions where none existed before. As the holder of the purse strings, it has the power." (Brent Bannerman in The Boston Globe)

What's the HIPAA Deadline for a Business Associate if Contract Renews Each January 1?
Excerpt: "Our company sponsors a self-funded medical plan. We use a TPA to pay claims and perform other functions under the plan involving the use and disclosure of protected health information (PHI). The contract with our TPA will automatically renew on January 1 of next year ... [B]ecause the TPA is a 'business associate' of the plan we have to amend the contract to include certain provisions required by HIPAA's privacy rules. What is the deadline ... ?" (EBIA Weekly (Question of the Week))

AARP Research: Prescription Drugs and Older Americans
Excerpt: "Prescription drugs are the fastest rising component of personal health expenditures in the United States. As a result, the prices of pharmaceutical products are a matter of great concern to most adults, but especially to older Americans who are the biggest consumers of prescription medications." (AARP)

Evidence Shows Value In Decreasing Use of Dental Surgery
Excerpt: "For years, dentists have emphasized restorative procedures, such as fillings and root canals. Now, however, new technologies, evidence-based research and preventive measures are stacking up to change the way dental treatment is provided and dental plans are managed." (BenefitNews.com)

Health Insurance Scammers Targeting Small Businesses and Self-Employed
Excerpt: "Charlatan insurance is spreading faster than you can say 'claim denied.' That's true for health as well as for medical malpractice and workers' compensation coverage. Two years ago the Texas Department of Insurance had 3 open investigations of scamsters. Today it's looking at 250." (Forbes.com)

G.O.P. Says Health Issues Top To-Do List
Excerpt: "Experts believe health care reform will be an even bigger priority if, as seems likely, Tennessee GOP Sen. Bill Frist, a heart and lung transplant surgeon who leads many of his party's health care initiatives, succeeds Mississippi's Trent Lott as Senate Republican leader." (The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer)

Health Insurance Tax Credits Could Shortchange Women
Press release. Excerpt: "Federal policy proposals to assist uninsured low-income adults have looked to tax credits to help buy health coverage in the individual insurance market. But a new study by The Commonwealth Fund finds that tax credits within the range of those contemplated in recent proposals would not be high enough to make health insurance affordable to women with low incomes." (The Commonwealth Fund)

Newly Online: Covering America: Real Remedies for the Uninsured, Volume 2
Excerpt: "Covering America: Real Remedies for the Uninsured, Volume 2, is a set of three new proposals from distinguished health analysts who outline policy options for broadly extending health insurance coverage.... The new volume also includes three commentaries by distinguished observers of the health system about the challenges of achieving major coverage expansions and how they can be addressed." (Economic & Social Research Institute)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

At Minnesota Employer, Full Benefits Are More Than Memories
Excerpt: "Imagine a company where employees are considered family rather than overhead. The workers' medical and dental coverage is paid for 100 percent and the company matches their 401(k) contributions dollar for dollar up to the maximum allowed. There's a summer picnic and a holiday party. And at the end of the year, there is a profit-sharing payout and a performance bonus ... This is Tiller Corp., a privately held, 250-employee road construction business in Maple Grove [Minnesota] ..." (StarTribune.com)

Actuaries Comment to GASB on Proposed Rules on Accounting for Postretirement Benefits (PDF)
Excerpt: "We recognize that the statement will define the accounting and financial reporting standards for post-retirement benefit plans for governmental employers.... Actuaries who have followed the progress of your deliberations are concerned about two particular aspects of the proposed standard that have been added in 2002." (American Academy of Actuaries)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Defined Contribution/401(k) Administrator
for Berlin, Ramos & Co., Rockville, Maryland
in DC, MD, VA
Newly Posted Conferences
(Post Yours!)

Cross-Tested Plans Specialty Workshop (1/2 day) offered throughout the country--various dates and locations beginning 3/20/2002 thru 5/29/2002
in AZ, CA, CO, DC, GA, IA, IL, IN, LA, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NY, OH, OK, PA, TN, TX, WA, WI
March 20, 2002
SunGard Corbel

Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans Specialty Workshops--offered throughout the country --various dates and locations beginning 3/20/2002 thru 5/30/2002
in AZ, CA, CO, DC, GA, IA, IL, IN, LA, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NY, OH, OK, PA, TN, TX, WA, WI
March 20, 2002
SunGard Corbel
Movers and Shakers: Newly Posted Announcements of Promotions and New Personnel
(Post Yours!)

Manolo Tristan (ING)

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