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<< Older News  |  June 1, 2020


All News > Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Tracking Telehealth Changes State-By-State in Response to COVID-19
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP Link to more items from this source
May 29, 2020

"All 50 states plus Washington, D.C., have introduced licensure flexibilities ... 40 states plus Washington, D.C., offer behavioral health services through telehealth. 32 states plus Washington, D.C., offer occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy services through telehealth.... 11 states have issued telehealth guidance for Child Well-care ... 13 states have issued guidance to providers to allow for telehealth or remote care delivery for early childhood intervention services."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Design

New COVID-19 Section 125 Plan Guidance: The Possible and the Impossible
MZQ Consulting, LLC Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
May 29, 2020

"This guidance is OPTIONAL. Employers don't have to do any of it unless they want to! If they do want to take advantage of it, it's not an all or nothing proposition.... The Health FSA carry-over relief in Notice 2020-29 isn't all that extensive, and it is a bit confusing. When you layer it with the claim's deadline extension ... the relief becomes more meaningful. It also gets trickier to explain and calculate."

Tags: Cafeteria Plans  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Dependent Care  •  Health Plan Administration

IRS Offers Relief to Cafeteria Plans, HDHPs, Individual-Coverage HRAs (PDF)
Mercer Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
May 29, 2020

"Employers adopting any of the pandemic relief's options should be mindful of the nondiscrimination rules for cafeteria plans and watch for unintended compliance failures that could result.... To reduce the possibility of adverse selection, employers may decide to limit the election changes allowed or not to offer any of new options under the relief. Any limitations, however, need to comply with the [HIPAA] rules that prohibit discriminating on the basis of health status."

Tags: Cafeteria Plans  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Dependent Care  •  HRAs  •  HSAs

Survey Results: DC Plan Response to CARES Act Varies by Industry and Recordkeeper
Callan Link to more items from this source
May 29, 2020

"21% of the DC plan respondents had taken some type of workforce action, including salary reductions, layoffs, or furloughs. A third of recordkeepers added the capability for coronavirus-related distributions (CRDs) across all the plans they served, and required sponsors to opt out if they did not want to offer this option.... 53% of recordkeepers automatically waived minimum required distributions ... 64% of recordkeepers had already instituted DC plan loan deferment provisions ... The vast majority of sponsors said they had no plans to suspend or reduce their matching contribution."

Tags: CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Retirement Plan Administration

Editor's Pick Public Retirement Systems and the Pandemic: A Coming Wave of COLA Litigation?
Fox Rothschild LLP Link to more items from this source
May 29, 2020

"Reducing COLAs after 2008 led to widespread litigation. Another round of COLA reductions is likely to lead to further litigation.... What is the central claim being raised in COLA litigation? ... What is the key consideration involving Contract Clause claims? ... What happens in states where courts have not adopted the three-part U.S. Trust test? ... What happens in states with a pension clause in the state constitution? ... What COLA litigation may arise as a result of COVID-19? ... What other lessons emerged from prior COLA litigation?"

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Funding of DB Plans  •  Retirement Plan Design  •  State and Local Government Plans

Philadelphia Councilmembers Propose Expansion of Emergency Sick Leave
ReedSmith Link to more items from this source
May 29, 2020

"This proposed bill for public health emergency leave will cover any employees (including health care providers, emergency workers, caregivers, gig economy workers, and undocumented workers) during a declared public health emergency who perform work for an employer and are physically present at the workplace for at least 40 hours per year.... This bill would essentially increase the number of paid sick days an employee would receive from five to 14 days, and would allow workers to use the days immediately rather than waiting for them to accrue."

Tags: CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FFCRA  •  FMLA and Other Leave  •  Local Regulation

Low-Income Workers' Eligibility for Emergency Paid Family Leave
Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation [ASPE], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] Link to more items from this source
May 29, 2020

"This brief estimates eligibility for the emergency paid family leave program under different participation scenarios, providing information to human services organizations and others about the potential benefits of outreach to lower income parents and their employers about the program. It focuses in particular on poor and low-income working parents and small businesses."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FMLA and Other Leave

Text of IRS Notice 2020-35: Relief with Respect to Deadlines Applicable to Employment Taxes, Employee Benefits, and Exempt Organizations Affected by the Ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic (PDF)
Internal Revenue Service [IRS] Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
May 29, 2020

"[T]he revised deadline for an Affected Taxpayer to perform a Time-Sensitive Action ... is July 15, 2020, unless a different revised deadline is specified ...

"The Time-Sensitive Actions [include] ...

  • Application for a funding waiver under section 412(c) for a defined benefit pension plan that is not a multiemployer plan....
  • With respect to a multiemployer defined benefit pension plan, actions due to be performed on or before the dates described in: 
    • Section 432(b)(3) for the certification of funded status and the notice to interested parties of that certification.
    • Sections 432(c)(1) and 432(e)(1) for the adoption of, and the notification to the bargaining parties of the schedules under, a funding improvement plan or rehabilitation plan.
    • Sections 432(c)(6) and 432(e)(3) for the annual update of a funding improvement plan and its contribution schedules, or rehabilitation plan and its contribution schedules, and the filing of those updates with the Form 5500 annual return....
  •     Filing of Form 5330 and payment of the associated excise taxes....
  • With respect to the remedial amendment period and plan amendment rules for section 403(b) plans described in Rev. Proc. 2017-18 and Rev. Proc. 2019-39, actions that are otherwise required to be performed on or before March 31, 2020, with respect to form defects or plan amendments. The deadline for those actions is postponed to June 30, 2020 ...
  • With respect to pre-approved defined benefit plans, the deadline for the following actions is postponed until July 31, 2020:
    • Adoption of a pre-approved defined benefit plan that was approved based on the 2012 Cumulative List; 
    • Submission of a determination letter application under the second six-year remedial amendment cycle; and
    • Actions that are otherwise required to be performed with respect to disqualifying provisions during the remedial amendment period that would otherwise end on April 30, 2020....
  • With respect to a compliance statement issued under VCP, implementation of all corrective actions, including adoption of corrective amendments, required by the compliance statement....
  • Request for approval of a substitute mortality table in accordance with section 430(h)(3)(C)....
  • With respect to the Form 5498, IRA Contribution Information, Form 5498-ESA, Coverdell ESA Contribution Information, and the Form 5498-SA, HSA, Archer MSA, or Medicare Advantage MSA Information, the due date for filing and furnishing the forms is postponed to August 31, 2020."

Tags: 403(b) Plans and Annuities  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  HSAs  •  Health Plan Administration  •  Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)  •  Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs)  •  Reporting to Government Agencies  •  Retirement Plan Administration  •  Retirement Plan Amendments

COVID-19 Relief for Retirement Benefits: Open Issues
Albert Feuer, via SSRN Link to more items from this source
May 28, 2020

"[D]espite recent IRS and DOL guidance there are still major outstanding issues preventing Covid-19 victims from obtaining better access to their own accrued benefits, when they are most in need of such access, and may impose undue compliance costs or risks on plan sponsors and administrators."

Tags: CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Retirement Plan Administration

Health Insurers Don't Need Federal 'Risk Corridors'
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Link to more items from this source
May 28, 2020

"The 'risk corridor' provisions that were added at the last minute to the House-passed Heroes Act would provide an unnecessary benefit for health insurers and do not merit inclusion in the next COVID-19 relief bill. With no indication that health insurers' net costs are rising due to the pandemic, even well-designed risk corridors should be a low priority for federal legislation compared to other, far more urgent needs. But features of the House bill provisions provide a subsidy to insurers, with minimal benefit to consumers."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Costs  •  Health Plan Policy

COBRA, HIPAA, and Claim Deadline Extensions are Optional for State and Local Governmental Group Health Plans
Miller Johnson Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
May 28, 2020

"Some governmental entities may choose not to extend any of these deadlines due to administrative challenges that may arise from allowing participants and beneficiaries a significantly longer time to request enrollment following a HIPAA special enrollment event, provide the required COBRA notifications, pay COBRA premiums, or submit benefit claims and appeals. Governmental entities that do voluntarily extend some or all of these deadlines should confirm that its carrier (if fully insured) or stop-loss carrier (if self-funded) will honor these extensions, especially since these deadline extensions are optional."

Tags: COBRA  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Administration  •  State and Local Government Plans

DOL and IRS Extend Deadlines for Employee Benefit Plans and Plan Participants
Slevin & Hart, P.C. Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
May 28, 2020

"Notwithstanding the relief provided to plan fiduciaries in the guidance, the Notice reiterates that plan fiduciaries have an ongoing fiduciary duty to act reasonably, prudently, and in the interest of participants. The DOL notes that plans should make reasonable accommodations to prevent the loss of benefits or undue delay in benefits payments, and particularly reduce the risk of participants losing benefits because of the plan's failure to comply with pre-established timeframes."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Administration  •  Retirement Plan Administration

COVID-19 Effects on Executive Compensation in Private Companies: Deferred Compensation
Murphy Austin Link to more items from this source
May 28, 2020

"[U]nlike hardship distributions from 401(k) plans, there are no safe harbor rules that an employer may rely on, when determining whether an Executive experienced an unforeseeable emergency... [To] permit a distribution, the deferred compensation must be needed because the Executive has no other resources to use such as savings or ceasing elective deferrals into the deferred compensation plan or a 401(k) plan. Therefore, it will likely be difficult for an Executive to meet this burden, and get a distribution, especially if there is money available under a 401(k) plan or the emergency can be met by ceasing deferrals to the 401(k) plan and the deferred compensation plan."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Nonqualified Plans

CARES Act Authorizes Limited Employer Repayment of Student Loans
Best Best & Krieger LLP Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
May 28, 2020

"This limited-time benefit, which is only available during 2020, can be a win-win for employers and employees because it is not taxable to the employee and it is not counted for payroll tax purposes for public agencies that do not contribute to Social Security.... [This] provision of the Act allows employers to pay or reimburse any 'qualified education loan' ... up to $5,250 during the remainder of 2020 under an educational assistance program."

Tags: CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Educational Assistance Benefits

Summary of Recent Legislative and Regulatory Changes Impacting Group Health Plans
Slevin & Hart, P.C. Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
May 28, 2020

"Mandated coverage for COVID-19 testing and related items and services.... Mandated coverage for COVID-19 preventive services.... Communication of COVID-19 coverage changes.... Employee assistance programs (EAPs) and COVID-19 testing.... High deductible health plans (HDHPs) and spending accounts.... DOL update to model COBRA notices."

Tags: COBRA  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  HSAs  •  Health Plan Design

Using DB Pension Plans to Smooth Staff and Payroll Disruptions During COVID-19
Milliman Link to more items from this source
May 28, 2020

"Allow the pension plan to provide in-service distributions (i.e., pension income) to help offset reductions in pay. ... [C]onsider offering a lump sum window.... Another possibility is an early retirement window.... [C]onsideration should be given to the opportunity cost associated with lost future asset returns when lump sums are paid from the plan. However, the strategy may result in a net savings beyond the effects of a reduction in ongoing pay-related costs."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Funding of DB Plans  •  Retirement Plan Design

New Guidance Provides Flexibility for Cafeteria Plan Participants to Make Health Plan Elections Mid-Year
Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
May 28, 2020

"An employer is not required to provide unlimited election changes but may determine the extent to which such election changes are permitted and applied at its discretion, provided that any permitted election changes are applied on a prospective basis only, and the changes to the plan's election requirements satisfy nondiscrimination rules applicable to Cafeteria Plans. This relief may be applied retroactively to periods prior to the issuance of the notice and on or after January 1, 2020."

Tags: Cafeteria Plans  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Dependent Care  •  HSAs  •  Health Plan Design

IRS Issues Relief for FSAs and Other Cafeteria Plans
HealthEquity Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
May 28, 2020

"Employers considering amending their plans in line with the guidance should consider their unique circumstances and all possible outcomes. To get started, think the through the following: [1] The potential for adverse selection.... [2] How HSA use may be impacted.... [3] Budget capacity.... [4] Administrative capacity."

Tags: Cafeteria Plans  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Dependent Care  •  HSAs  •  Health Plan Design

COVID-19: Paid Leave for Employees Around the World (PDF)
International Lawyers Network Link to more items from this source
May 28, 2020

29 pages. This guide offers an overview of legal aspects of paid leave in the following jurisdictions: Austria; Brazil; Canada (Quebec); Chile; China; Czech Republic; England; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; India; The Netherlands; Romania; Russia; Sweden; Thailand; and the United States (Overview, Massachusetts, and New York).

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FMLA and Other Leave

Most Employers Help Their Furloughed Employees Pay for COBRA Coverage
Wolters Kluwer; free registration required Link to more items from this source
May 28, 2020

"[E]mployers are handling health care benefits for furloughed employees in a variety of ways: 7 percent are providing employee health care coverage through COBRA, with the worker paying the full cost; 38 percent are continuing health care coverage for the entire period, with the cost shared as usual between worker and employer; 23 percent are continuing health care coverage for the entire period, with the employer paying the full cost; 25 percent are continuing health care coverage for a limited time, with the cost shared as usual between worker and employer; and 7 percent are continuing health care coverage for a limited time, with the employer paying the full cost."

Tags: COBRA  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Design

COVID Crisis Spawns COBRA Procedures Requiring Prompt Attention
Benefits Law Group of Chicago Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
May 27, 2020

"Employers with group health plans should advise employees and former employees whose employment terminated at any time after March 1, 2020 of these extended deadlines.... This is particularly important with respect to employees terminated on or after March 1 who have already received defective COBRA notices that fail to reflect the new COBRA deadlines. So, it makes sense for employers to stop using their current COBRA notice forms because they have time either to provide corrected notices or to provide information to supplement their current notice form."

Tags: COBRA  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)

School's Out for Summer: Unavailability of Child Care and the FFCRA
Fisher Phillips Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
May 27, 2020

"The question many employers are asking is whether employees qualify for paid leave if their preferred child care provider is not available but other daycare options are available.... forcing an employee to place their child in a day care or other child care setting, if the child's 'usual' child care provider is closed due to COVID-19-related reasons, risks an interference claim under the FFCRA."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FFCRA  •  FMLA and Other Leave

Editor's Pick COVID-19: A Roadmap to Relief for IRA Owners and Providers
Morgan Lewis Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
May 27, 2020

"IRA providers may want to ... [1] Notify IRA owners and beneficiaries of the COVID-19 relief provided by the CARES Act and IRS Notice 2020-23. [2] Send a follow-up letter to IRA owners who were age 70-1/2 or older in 2019 and received RMD letters in January 2020 informing them that they had to take RMDs in 2020, that no RMDs are now required in 2020. [3] Put procedures in place for IRA owners and beneficiaries with RMD installment payments in place to notify the IRA provider whether they want to take or skip RMDs in 2020."

Tags: CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)  •  Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

Reopening Health Plan Elections Mid-Year? IRS Leaves It Up to Employers
Littler Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
May 26, 2020

"[E]mployers have complete discretion to design and implement the allowed changes, or not allow any changes at all.... [E]mployers should consider ... [1] The direct financial cost of allowing employees to drop or add coverage, especially if healthy employees drop plan coverage and employees with high-cost claims remain on the plan. [2] Any applicable minimum participation requirements, if the plan is fully-insured. [3] The additional administration in reviewing and processing the election changes."

Tags: Cafeteria Plans  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  HSAs  •  Health Plan Design

Employers Consider Changes to PTO Policies as Unused Vacation Days Accumulate
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]; membership may be required to view article Link to more items from this source
May 26, 2020

"[One company] has ruled out letting employees carry over time or paying them for their unused time ... [as this] would be prohibitively expensive with about one-third of the employees entitled to at least four weeks off. One option under consideration is letting employees donate unused vacation time to a bank that could be tapped by colleagues facing extraordinary circumstances. Another is mandating employees to take some time off by a certain date."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FMLA and Other Leave

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