Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

March 24, 2020

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Working Through COVID-19: Effective Communications Strategies to Keep Your Workforce Engaged
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Buck

COVID-19 Town Hall
March 24, 2020 WEBCAST
ERISAfire

COVID-19 - Considerations for Employers
March 26, 2020 WEBCAST
Eversheds Sutherland

COVID-19 Impact on Employee Benefit Plans
March 26, 2020 WEBCAST
Trucker Huss

Benefit Issues to Watch During the Coronavirus Crisis
March 26, 2020 WEBCAST
Littler

Do's and Don'ts of Defensible Documentation
April 21, 2020 WEBCAST
Disability Management Employer Coalition [DMEC]

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View Coronavirus (COVID-19) News and Resources
NEW: Upcoming Coronavirus (COVID-19) Webcasts

[Guidance Overview]

Furloughs and Leaves: Implications Under the Employer Shared Responsibility Requirements of the ACA

"[E]mployers that utilize a 'look-back' measurement period to determine full-time employee status should be aware that they may, in certain circumstances, be subject to a penalty under the ESR requirements, if employees placed on furlough or leave (and not terminated) are not offered affordable coverage under the employer's group health plan during the furlough or leave period."

Bond, Schoeneck & King

[Guidance Overview]

The Effect of COVID-19 on Your Company's Health Plans (PDF)

67 presentation slides. Topics: [1] FFCRA mandates free COVID-19 testing without cost-sharing; [2] Health plan eligibility: reduction in hours, furlough, layoff pay, and premium shortfalls; [3] When active coverage ends: subsidies options for employers and employees; [4] Section 125 cafeteria plans: changing elections; [5] COVID-19 and HIPAA PHI implications; [6] COVID-19 and the ADA: employer use of health information in the workplace; [7] FFCRA: emergency paid sick leave; [8] FFCRA: emergency FMLA leave; [9] FFCRA: payroll tax credits. [Updated Mar. 23, 2020]

ABD Insurance & Financial Services

[Guidance Overview]

No Cost-Sharing for Coronavirus Testing

"COVID-19 testing must be covered in most settings with no participant cost-sharing. This includes the items and services used in the evaluation of determining whether the COVID-19 test is needed. Not all evaluations will result in an actual COVID-19 test."

Miller Johnson

[Guidance Overview]

Congress and IRS Provide Separate COVID-19 Guidance That Addresses Payment for Diagnosis and Treatment

"IRS Notice 2020-15 states that an HDHP that covers the cost of COVID-19 testing or treatment will still be considered an HSA-compatible HDHP -- and eligible HSA owners will still be able to make tax-deductible contributions. The new federal statute, on the other hand, requires health plans to cover COVID-19 testing expenses, but not treatment expenses. Individuals participating in HDHPs or any other type of health plan should consult the insurer regarding their costs associated with COVID-19 testing and treatment, including the potential application of any deductible or cost sharing."

Ascensus

[Guidance Overview]

Employer Group Health Plan Mandate Related to No-Cost COVID-19 Testing and New Paid and FMLA Leave

"[E]mployers with self-insured group health plans [should] formally amend their group health plans to provide the required coverage, confirm that the plan's third party administrator will administer the plan accordingly and confirm that the stop-loss carrier will include the plan's COVID-19 testing costs as covered claims under the stop-loss policy.... [T]he new triggering event for FMLA leave ... is subject to Section 104(c) of the FMLA, which requires that group health plan coverage continue during these leaves of absence, subject to the employee's payment of the employee's share of the premium."

Fox Rothschild LLP

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2020 Onsite Employee Health Clinics Forum (June 25 - 26, 2020; Chicago, IL)

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[Guidance Overview]

Agencies Preview Guidance for Families First Coronavirus Response Act

"[E]ligible employers that pay for qualifying leave under the Act will be able to refund the cost of the leave paid to employees by withholding the commensurate amount of money from the payroll taxes paid rather than deposit them with the IRS as normal.... The DOL also will issue emergency guidance regarding the exemption for small businesses (less than 50 employees) from the leave requirements related to school closings or childcare unavailability where the Act's requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as an ongoing concern."

Holland & Knight

[Guidance Overview]

Seattle Expands Its Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance in Response to COVID-19

"Effective March 18, 2020, the Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) Ordinance allows eligible employees working in Seattle to use PSST when their family member's school or place of care is closed, regardless of whether such closure is made by a public official. In addition, when 'Tier 3' employers (with 250 or more full time equivalent employees worldwide) reduce operations or close a Seattle worksite for any health or safety reason, those employees are now able to use PSST for that reason. Thus far, neither the City Council nor the Office of Labor Standards has provided guidance on what exactly is meant by a reduction in operations."

Jackson Lewis P.C.

[Guidance Overview]

Colorado Provides Further Guidance on Mandatory Paid Leave for COVID-19 Testing

"Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (DLE) has issued new Health Emergency Leave with Pay (HELP) Rules in response to the coronavirus. Effective March 11, 2020, the HELP Rules mandate employers provide four days of paid sick leave for employees in certain industries who have flu-like symptoms to receive COVID-19 testing. The DLE has since released FAQs to clarify some ambiguities in the HELP Rules."

Epstein Becker Green

[Guidance Overview]

COVID-19: Ohio Changes Rules for Health Insurance Coverage

"Under Bulletin 2020-03, group health plan eligibility restrictions were lifted, premium increases limited, and rules for continuation of coverage expanded. Insurers must allow employers to continue coverage for employees who would otherwise be ineligible as a result of a reduction in hours worked. Further, any 'active at work' provision will not operate to limit eligibility for coverage under a group health policy."

Jackson Lewis P.C.

Coming Soon: New Notice to Employees for Posting by Employers During COVID-19 Outbreak

"The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act portion of the new law also requires employers to conspicuously post a notice, ... [which] should be available any day now, as the new law required its preparation within a week following the enactment of the Act.... If you have added more paid sick leave benefits or other forms of leave in response to the crisis, these may become additional to what is required ... under the new paid leave provisions, which are required to be in ADDITION to existing paid leave given by employers ... Attempts to claw this additional employer-granted leave back after new mandatory leave is in place could be met with sanctions and penalties."

McBrayer PLLC

Health Plan Issues When Considering a Furlough for Your Employees

"[E]mployers must carefully address health plan coverage during a furlough. Issues US employers will need to consider include ... [1] Payment of premiums ... [2] Discrimination ... [3] [E]mployer shared responsibility payments ... [4] COBRA ... [5] Interaction with other leave policies ... [6] New coronavirus paid leave laws ... [7] Plan documents; coordination."

Mayer Brown

Coronavirus Issues for Health Plans (PDF)

"[M]any insurance carriers have stated -- formally or informally -- that they are willing to extend the periods they will provide coverage for employees who are on unpaid leave. That act of grace is nice, but it is not legally binding. At the end of the day, the written plan document still controls."

Hinkle Law Firm LLC

HIPAA in the Time of Coronavirus

"Can the group health plan disclose an individual's COVID-19 diagnosis to the CDC or other state or local authorities? ... Can an employer disclose an individual's COVID-19 diagnosis to other employees or other people at risk (such as visitors to a job-site or conference attendees)? ... What steps should an employer take to ensure HIPAA-compliance for employees who are working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak?"

Faegre Drinker

COBRA Subsidies Affect Employee's Ability to Enroll in Marketplace Coverage

"[A]bsent additional guidance, COBRA beneficiaries likely will not be able to switch to Marketplace coverage upon the termination of the employer subsidy.... Employers who wish to provide employee flexibility to enroll in Marketplace coverage may ... [provide] financial assistance for health insurance without jeopardizing the employee's ability to acquire Marketplace coverage ... by offering the employee a 'post-tax' payment for the employee to use for health insurance. The taxable payment would provide the employee the option to either use the payment towards Marketplace coverage or enroll in COBRA coverage, if that option was preferable."

Bond, Schoeneck & King

Eleven States Now Letting Uninsured Sign Up for Obamacare

"Eleven states and the District of Columbia have opened enrollment under the [ACA] to allow laid-off workers to get subsidized health insurance, and the Trump administration ... is considering opening the federal exchange to new customers."

The New York Times; subscription may be required

Benefits in General

Editor's Pick Tools to Aid Employers and Employees During COVID-19 Pandemic

"There are a number of other tools in the Code or in employee benefit plans that may assist employers in helping their employees through the disruption of employment and any concurrent economic downturn. Employers making benefits changes in response to an economic downturn need to carefully communicate the change and how it impacts different groups of employees and the distinctions within workforces between furloughed, layoffs, and terminated employees to avoid miscommunication of the impact of the change on different groups of employees."

Jackson Walker

Disability Claims Regulations and the COVID-19 Pandemic

"[P]lan administrators and others involved in disability claims administration may wish to reevaluate the applicable [DOL] deadlines and requirements in light of present pressures on medical personnel, persons with serious health problems, and business disruptions.... Potential problems may include: [1] Difficulty obtaining in-person examinations ... [2] Difficulty retrieving or reviewing necessary medical records ... [3] Disruption of claim operations"

Robinson & Cole LLP

Employer Cybersecurity Concerns for Employees Working Remotely

"Employers are responding to COVID-19 by allowing, and even mandating remote working.... While increasingly common even before the virus, remote work brings its own unique set of cybersecurity challenges. Here are the ten most common pitfalls and the recommended solutions."

Poyner Spruill LLP

Press Releases

Upcoming Events About Health & Welfare Plans

Mar. 25
Webcast
Free
Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs for Healthcare Employers
Jackson Lewis LLP
Mar. 25
Webcast
Free
Tools You Can Use: Prediabetes & Diabetes Management in the Workplace
Midwest Business Group on Health
Mar. 26
Webcast
Free
HIPAA Training for Employers: From Portability to Privacy
ABD Insurance & Financial Services
Mar. 26
Webcast
Free
Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor
Mar. 26
Webcast
Free
COVID-19 - Considerations for Employers
Eversheds Sutherland
Mar. 26
Webcast
Free
Pandemic Plan of Action - COVID-19 Update for Health & Welfare Plans
Groom Law Group
Mar. 26
Webcast
Free
Understanding Health & Welfare Section 125 Nondiscrimination Testing
ISCEBS - Pacific NW Chapter
Mar. 26
Webcast
Free
Benefit Issues to Watch During the Coronavirus Crisis
Littler
Mar. 26
Webcast
Free
COVID-19 Impact on Employee Benefit Plans
Trucker Huss
Mar. 31
Webcast
Intermittent FMLA Leave: Curbing Abuse
Business Watch Network
Mar. 31
Webcast
Free
COVID-19 Town Hall
ERISAfire
Mar. 31
Webcast
Free
Healthcare Litigation Trends to Watch in 2020 and Beyond
Manatt
Mar. 31
Texas
2019 Employee Benefit Trends
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Dallas Chapter

Most Popular Items in the Previous Issue

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act: FAQs for Employers
Baker & Hostetler, via Lexology; free registration required

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David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher  davebaker@benefitslink.com
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BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2020 BenefitsLink.com, Inc. All materials contained in this newsletter are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of BenefitsLink.com, Inc., or in the case of third party materials, the owner of those materials. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notices from copies of the content.

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