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December 30, 2002 - 8,030 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)
California HMO Cuts Payments to Insurance Brokers
Excerpt: "On Jan. 1, Kaiser Permanente will whack the pay of a well-paid, low-profile group that's generally escaped cost-cutting so far: health insurance brokers. The giant HMO will start paying brokers a flat fee per member per month for the business they write, instead of the traditional commission that's a percentage of the premiums paid." (Sacramento Business Journal via bizjournals.com; free registration required)

AMA Responds To New York Times Editorial on Medical Errors and Patient Safety
Excerpt: "[T]he majority of medical errors do not result from individual recklessness, but rather from flaws in the delivery system. The AMA strongly supports safety initiatives such as computerized systems for medical records, pharmaceutical orders to minimize errors, efforts to reduce clinician fatigue and nurse staffing shortages." (American Medical Association)

It's the Republicans' Turn to Find a Healthcare Cure
Excerpt: "Eight years after Bill Clinton's attempt to restructure the health-care system nearly capsized his presidency, circumstances are propelling President Bush toward another confrontation with the enduring problems of cost, access and equity in American medicine." (Los Angeles Times; free registration required)

Climate is Right for Healthcare Reform
Excerpt: "Old foes whose battles have stymied action on health care for nearly a decade finally agree: Something needs to be done. Their prescriptions still differ, but leaders of both parties say the growing number of uninsured Americans and the spiraling increase in health care costs are pushing the politically treacherous issue onto the national agenda again." (USA Today via Yahoo! News)

Bitter Pill for Americans: Are We Subsidizing Drugs for Europeans?
Excerpt: "Drug companies are growing increasingly frustrated by the efforts of European governments to hold down prices.... Ultimately, it may be U.S. consumers who pay the price. Drug makers are turning even more to the U.S. -- the only major industrialized country without government price controls -- for profits." (National Center for Policy Analysis)

Limiting Medical Malpractice Lawsuits, the Texas Way
Excerpt: "Mr. Bush and Congressional Republicans are poised to back changes in tort law next year, including proposals that would make it harder to win large jury awards for medical malpractice ... [I]t is possible to get some idea of the impact of a new system by looking at Texas, which over the past dozen years has become something of a tort-reform laboratory." (New York Times; free registration required)

Hospital Ratings Prescribe Some Patient Relief But Not a Cure-All
Excerpt: "[H]ospitals announced this month that they would provide data on how well they handle just three health conditions.... For the health care industry ... the move is a giant leap forward.... The dearth of information is particularly intolerable as health care moves rapidly toward a consumer-driven model that increasingly puts the burden on patients to choose providers and pay for care out of pocket." (USA Today)

Commentary: Healthcare Storm Brewing in California Threatens to Swamp U.S.
Excerpt: "From one side, the sagging economy and skyrocketing costs of insurance are pressuring more employers to drop health-care coverage for their workers. From the other side, the cavernous deficits in state budgets are forcing governors and legislators to slash Medicaid, the joint state-federal health program for the poor. As these two trends meet, the result could be a tidal wave in the number of Americans without access to health care." (Los Angeles Times; free registration required)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Options Payday for Some Executives: Raking it In, Even as Stocks Sag
Excerpt: "[M]any executives and board members have continued to cash in the stock options they were awarded as part of their pay, making millions of dollars even while their companies lost much of their value. The sales suggest that the measures enacted this year by Congress and by the New York Stock Exchange will not end the entrenched disconnect between pay and performance, compensation experts say." (New York Times; free registration required)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
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Associate - Insurance Services - Los Angeles, CA and Deerfield, IL
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Newly Posted Press Releases
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New Roles in ASPA For SunGard Corbel's Hoffman and Richter
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