Monday Morning – Issues This Week

I wish we could say “smooth sailing” this morning but we know that not to be the case here on the S.S. Heller Ehrman.  Here are the issues being kicked around via comments and e-mail and some requiring more info from our readers and passengers:

COBRA – many are wondering whether or not COBRA will be offered at all and what to do about health care and other benefits.  If COBRA is not available or too expensive, what are the alternatives to COBRA in securing coverage?  Stay tuned – we’ll have some tips and resources by end of day.

Incoming Associates – why are we receiving inquiries as to the status of incoming associates and clerkships?  It seems as if there has been little or no communication with this group.  What gives?

Parental Leave and Sabbaticals – what is the status of attorneys and staff currently on parental leave? what is the status of staff currently on sabbatical?  what is the status of sabbaticals as a pending benefit?

Weekend Discussions – what happened over the weekend in terms of other firms taking over specific pratice areas?  any news?

Office Space – some have stated they expect to be asked to leave in the next two weeks if office space is needed (being sublet or provided to other firms taking over practice group), can anyone confirm?

Over and out.

Heller Drone
Cruise Director


7 Responses to “Monday Morning – Issues This Week”

  1. 1 Incoming Associate 29 September 2008 at 5:54 am

    For the record, there has been no official communication from Heller Ehrman to incoming associates since Mike Gotham’s letter of August 27, detailing the delay in our start date from October 13, 2008 to January 20, 2009.

    None of us expects to come out of this with a job with one of the scattered pieces of Heller Ehrman, but the firm’s lack of communication has been extremely frustrating.

  2. 2 Rachel 29 September 2008 at 6:04 am

    The situation regarding health insurance is SERIOUS! I talked to CIGNA this morning and was told that Heller can cancel coverage at any time WITHOUT notice. Incredibly, Heller could cancel coverage retroactively. In other words, Heller could cancel coverage at 10:01 and an individual could fall in a hole at 10:02 and have no health insurance coverage whatsoever. Apparently, Heller’s policy is “self-funded,” and is entirely under the control of Heller. In other words, the situation is far worse than merely whether we can COBRA. Moreover, in California and other states, CIGNA does not offer conversion to individual coverage. I am continuing to research this and will update as I gather more information.

  3. 3 Rachel 29 September 2008 at 8:22 am

    I have spoken this morning with California regulators (800 927 4357) and the U.S. Department of Labor (866 275 7922). They have confirmed without equivocation that Heller can cancel all health insurance policies WITHOUT notice. To be clear what I mean by this is that the insurance could lapse before the insured is so advised.

    I appreciate the information concerning state laws and contacts provided by this web page. However, if Heller cancels its health insurance policies, individuals may be subject to a lapse in coverage during the time that they apply for a new policy. In my state, for example, one cannot apply for coverage under HIPAA UNTIL he or she is no longer covered under the group policy — a horrible catch-22. Most insurers have a several week long underwriting period during which an individual must wait for a determination. In the scenario that Heller discontinues coverage immediately, employees may be without insurance for some period of time. I know this sounds draconian, but, after hours of conversations with state and federal regulators, I am confident that it is the law.

    Has Heller promised to continue health insurance coverage during the 60-day wind-down and what the firm’s position is regarding COBRA? I would appreciate any information on this topic.

  4. 4 tjk 29 September 2008 at 10:25 am

    The WARN notice says we receive salary & benefits until Nov. 28.

  5. 5 hellerdrone 29 September 2008 at 10:32 am


    Understood, but what is not addressed is whether or not COBRA will be available to extend the healthcare benefits for the next 18 months as is available to most employees that leave a firm.

    Heller Drone
    Cruise Director

  6. 6 tjk 29 September 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Am I eligible for COBRA if my company closed or went bankrupt and there is no health plan?

    If there is no longer a health plan, there is no COBRA coverage available. If, however, there is another plan offered by the company, you may be covered under that plan.

    Union members who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement that provides for a medical plan also may be entitled to continued coverage.

    As per the FAQ at

  7. 7 Noway 29 September 2008 at 7:58 pm

    IMPORTANT: Anyone who is a member of Heller’s group plan issued by Kaiser Permanente needs to investigate the Kaiser individual conversion plan! You CAN buy an individual insurance policy that will continue your coverage, WITHOUT any problems about pre-existing conditions. A little bit pricey but not as bad as many. There are deadlines for doing this. It is MUCH better than Cobra, which does not work after the group plan terminates anyway.

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