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<< Older News  |  February 28, 2021

News

All News > Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Text of Agency FAQs About FFCRA and CARES Act Implementation, Part 44: Coverage of COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing Without Cost Sharing (PDF)
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]; U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]; and U.S.Treasury Department Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
Feb. 27, 2021

11 pages; 14 Q&As. "This document addresses the requirement under section 6001 of the [FFCRA], as amended by section 3201 of the [CARES Act], for group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage, including grandfathered health plans, to provide benefits for certain items and services related to diagnostic testing for COVID-19, without imposing any cost-sharing requirements, prior authorization, or other medical management requirements. In addition, this document addresses the requirement under section 3203 of the CARES Act for non-grandfathered group health plans and health insurance issuers offering non-grandfathered group or individual health insurance coverage to cover, without cost sharing, qualifying coronavirus preventive services, including recommended COVID-19 vaccines. This document also addresses other health coverage issues related to COVID-19 and includes information about how providers may seek federal reimbursement when delivering COVID-19 related services to the uninsured."

Tags: CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FFCRA  •  Health Plan Administration  •  Health Plan Design

Administration Strengthens Requirements That Plans and Issuers Cover COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing Without Cost Sharing and Ensures Providers Are Reimbursed for Administering COVID-19 Vaccines to Uninsured
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 27, 2021

"This guidance makes clear that private group health plans and issuers generally cannot use medical screening criteria to deny coverage for COVID-19 diagnostic tests for individuals with health coverage who are asymptomatic, and who have no known or suspected exposure to COVID-19. Such testing must be covered without cost sharing, prior authorization, or other medical management requirements imposed by the plan or issuer.... In addition, the guidance confirms that plans and issuers must cover point-of-care COVID-19 diagnostic tests, and COVID-19 diagnostic tests administered at state or locally administered testing sites. "

Tags: CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FFCRA  •  Health Plan Administration  •  Health Plan Design

Text of EBSA Extension of Certain Timeframes for Employee Benefit Plans, Participants, and Beneficiaries Affected by the COVID-19 Outbreak
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL] Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
Feb. 26, 2021

"Subject to the statutory duration limitation in ERISA section 518 and Code section 7508A, all group health plans, disability and other employee welfare benefit plans, and employee pension benefit plans subject to ERISA or the Code must disregard the period from March 1, 2020 until sixty [60] days after the announced end of the National Emergency or such other date announced by the Agencies in a future notification (the 'Outbreak Period") for all plan participants, beneficiaries, qualified beneficiaries, or claimants wherever located in determining the following periods and date:

  1. The 30-day period (or 60-day period, if applicable) to request special enrollment under ERISA section 701(f) and Code section 9801(f),
  2. The 60-day election period for COBRA continuation coverage under ERISA section 605 and Code section 4980B(f)(5),
  3. The date for making COBRA premium payments pursuant to ERISA section 602(2)(C) and (3) and Code section 4980B(f)(2)(B)(iii) and (C),
  4. The date for individuals to notify the plan of a qualifying event or determination of disability under ERISA section 606(a)(3) and Code section 4980B(f)(6)(C),
  5. The date within which individuals may file a benefit claim under the plan's claims procedure pursuant to 29 CFR 2560.503-1,
  6. The date within which claimants may file an appeal of an adverse benefit determination under the plan's claims procedure pursuant to 29 CFR 2560.503-1(h),
  7. The date within which claimants may file a request for an external review after receipt of an adverse benefit determination or final internal adverse benefit determination pursuant to 29 CFR 2590.715-2719(d)(2)(i) and 26 CFR 54.9815-2719(d)(2)(i), and
  8. The date within which a claimant may file information to perfect a request for external review upon a finding that the request was not complete pursuant to 29 CFR 2590.715-2719(d)(2)(ii) and 26 CFR 54.9815-2719(d)(2)(ii)....

"With respect to group health plans, and their sponsors and administrators, the Outbreak Period shall be disregarded when determining the date for providing a COBRA election notice under ERISA section 606(c) and Code section 4980B(f)(6)(D)."

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

COBRA/HIPAA Outbreak Guidance – an Answer (Finally)
Kushner & Company Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 26, 2021

"Effectively, the guidance says that all of the 'pause' buttons are on an individual-by-individual rolling basis. Thus for example, an employee who terminated prior to March 1, 2020 but whose COBRA 60-day election timeline had already begun to run but not yet expired, the timeline suspensions will end on February 28, 2021."

Tags: COBRA  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  HIPAA

EEOC Withdraws Proposed Wellness Incentive Rules
Epstein Becker Green Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 26, 2021

"One of the EEOC Commissioners ... [stated] on February 18, 2021, that the rules remain under consideration at EEOC ... The incentive issue has particular currency and importance today as many employers consider whether to offer incentives to encourage employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations."

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

IRS Clarifies FSA Relief in CAA, Provides More Flexibility for Cafeteria Plan Elections
Mercer Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 26, 2021

"In this most recent notice, the IRS broadened the relief ... so that an employer may allow election changes for all pre-tax health benefits in the 2021 plan year without a qualifying reason. The rules retain the written attestation requirement of other coverage for revoking medical coverage."

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

Retroactive COVID-19 Supplemental Leave Benefit Enacted in Unincorporated Los Angeles County
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 25, 2021

"This 2021 urgency ordinance takes effect immediately and is retroactive to January 1, 2021.... [It] provides all employees, regardless of the size of the employer, who are not food sector workers, healthcare providers, or first responders ... and who perform work in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, with COVID-19-related leave entitlement."

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

Retirement Risk Readiness Study: Concern Over Pandemic's Effect on Finances, Rise in Earlier-Than-Expected Retirements
Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America Link to more items from this source
Feb. 24, 2021

"More than two-thirds (68%) of retired respondents said they retired earlier than expected ... Nearly seven in 10 (69%) Americans (age 21+ in 2007) said they believe the COVID-19 pandemic will have a greater overall economic impact than the Great Recession (2007-2009), with retired respondents feeling most adamant (86%, versus 69% for near-retired and 68% for pre-retired)."

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

2021 Updates to California Local COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Requirements
Reed Smith Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 24, 2021

"[N]umerous California counties and cities have extended their COVID-19 paid sick leave ordinances and imposed additional requirements for employers. To date, these include: Los Angeles (City and County), City of Long Beach, Sacramento (City and County), San Francisco, City of Oakland, San Mateo County, Sonoma County, Santa Rosa, and San Jose."

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

Access to Guaranteed Lifetime Income Boosts Employee Confidence and Retirement Savings During Pandemic
TIAA Link to more items from this source
Feb. 24, 2021

"[M]ore than three in ten employees say they increased their retirement savings contributions in the last year ... 80 percent of employees who have guaranteed lifetime income in retirement -- like an in-plan annuity -- say they feel confident in their progress toward their long-term savings goals, compared to 45 percent of those who do not have a source of guaranteed lifetime income."

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

Survey Says: Has the Pandemic Changed Your Retirement Date?
PLANSPONSOR; free registration may be required Link to more items from this source
Feb. 22, 2021

"Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents said the pandemic has not changed their retirement date. Less than one in 10 (8.3%) reported that the pandemic has changed their retirement date to later than they planned, and 16.7% said they will be retiring earlier than planned. Only 2.8% said they never plan to retire, and 8.3% reported they don't know if the pandemic changed their retirement date."

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

One-Year Expiration of Outbreak Period: It's (Probably) Time to Pay Your COBRA Premiums
Seyfarth Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 22, 2021

"[T]he relief afforded under these rules will expire effective February 28, 2021 -- and this expiration would be a 'hard stop,' meaning there will not be a 60 day 'wind down' period as anticipated in the original guidance.... The DOL seems more open to seeking avenues to further extend the Outbreak Period.... The IRS is less keen on issuing any sort of extension."

Tags: COBRA  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Extended Deadlines Ending for COBRA, HIPAA Special Enrollments, Benefits Claims and Appeals
HUB International Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 22, 2021

"[T]he IRS and DOL may attempt to reinterpret the Outbreak Period relief, such as by saying that it applies on a participant-by-participant basis.... If employers did not communicate the impending February 28, 2021 Outbreak Period expiration, they should make sure they do so now."

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

Navigating Voluntary COVID-19 Vaccination Programs and Incentives
Mintz Link to more items from this source
Feb. 22, 2021

"Armed with the understanding that voluntary vaccination programs are generally permissible provided they are truly voluntary, the question arises: can employers affirmatively incentivize employees to become vaccinated? And if so, how do employers design incentives that ensure their vaccination program remains truly voluntary and does not in effect force participation in potential violation of the anti-discrimination laws?"

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

New York State Issues Guidance on COVID-19 Quarantine Leave
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 19, 2021

"Based on this guidance, it appears the New York [DOL] has ruled that an employee may use quarantine leave for up to three COVID-19 orders."

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

The New Better: Strategic Health Plan Innovation in a Post-Pandemic Environment
Aon Link to more items from this source
Feb. 18, 2021

10 pages. "Digital health apps (47%), self-management tools (41%), and navigation and consumer engagement platforms (41%) have emerged as lead areas of interest for benefits leaders ... 36% of employers are interested in a virtual-directed health plan model, with a virtual primary care physician who directs all care, including coordination with the traditional brick-and-mortar health system."

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

EEOC Withdraws Proposed Rules on Employer Wellness Incentives, Leaving Uncertain the Permissibility of COVID-19 Vaccination Incentives
K&L Gates Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 18, 2021

"In the absence of specific guidance from the EEOC, if employers offer a vaccine incentive, they must be mindful of employees who cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccination because of religious beliefs or other medical conditions."

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

'Outbreak Period' Ending February 28, 2021?
TRI-AD Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 18, 2021

"Without an extension of this 12-month expiration date, [the author] believes the clock starts again on March 1, 2021 for COBRA, certain HIPAA special enrollment, and COBRA qualifying events and claims appeals."

Tags: COBRA  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  HIPAA

Clock May Begin Ticking Soon for Important Deadlines Suspended Due to COVID-19
Groom Law Group Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 18, 2021

"Adding to the confusion is a one-year statutory limit that applies to extensions mandated by the Departments. Since the Outbreak Period Extensions were first effective as of March 1, 2020, that one-year limit will be up shortly.... [P]lans and plan administrators should decide whether to end the extensions on midnight on February 28, 2021 based on this one-year limit."

Tags: COBRA  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  HIPAA

Retirement Insecurity 2021: Americans' Views of Retirement (PDF)
National Institute on Retirement Security [NIRS] Link to more items from this source
Feb. 18, 2021

"The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many Americans' concerns and plans for retirement ... A large swath of Americans is concerned about their economic security in retirement.... Americans are highly supportive of Social Security, and there is some support for expanding the program.... When it comes to pensions, Americans have highly favorable views about their role in the retirement equation and see these plans as better than 401(k) savings accounts."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Retirement Plan Design  •  Retirement Plan Policy

Best Practices for Management of Intermittent FMLA Leave
Mintz Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 17, 2021

"[1] Have clear written policies and practices.... [2] Educate, engage, and communicate.... [3] Be organized.... [4] Train managers.... [5] Treat employees taking FMLA leave the same as those who take non-FMLA leave.... [6] Account for other state leave laws.... [7] Consider COVID-19's continued impact.... [8] Remember the ADA."

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

'You Just Missed the Exit', or 'Where's the Guidance on Ending the Outbreak Period?'
Lockton Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 17, 2021

"[H]ere we are, almost a year out, and the president hasn't rescinded the national emergency. But under ERISA, the feds only had the authority to suspend these deadlines for a year.... So, what happens on March 1 with respect to all those folks who, since then, haven't yet elected COBRA, paid their COBRA premium, submitted claims, applied for HIPAA special enrollment, or filed an appeal on a denied claim?"

Tags: COBRA  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  HIPAA

Can an Employer Terminate COBRA Coverage During the Pandemic's Outbreak Period?
Kushner & Company Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 17, 2021

"As the pandemic continues on, employers have reported that COBRA qualified beneficiaries are not making elections, or are making no or short payments of premiums ... Without guidance, the best analog is to look at how the employer treats COBRA beneficiaries during the non-pandemic election period, and during the late payment grace period."

Tags: COBRA  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)

401(k) Plan Sponsor and Participant Behavior During the Global Pandemic (PDF)
T. Rowe Price Link to more items from this source
Feb. 17, 2021

"68% of plans with assets greater than $25 million adopted at least one CARES Act Provision. 9% of participants with access to provisions, in plans with assets greater than $25 million, used at least one CARES Act provision. 23% of participants indicated that they plan on repaying their Coronavirus Related Distribution (CRD)."

Tags: 401(k) Plans  •  CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Retirement Plan Administration  •  Retirement Plan Design

COVID-19 and COBRA Continuation: Where Do We Stand?
DataPath; free registration required Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 16, 2021

"With the pandemic still ongoing, the end of COBRA extensions is uncertain and has created myriad issues for beneficiaries, employers, health insurance plans, and third party COBRA administrators.... With the February 28 date looming, several scenarios could play out. "

Tags: COBRA  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)


<< Older News  |  February 28, 2021

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