Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

March 25, 2020

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Navigating Employee Benefits in an Evolving COVID-19 Pandemic
March 26, 2020 WEBCAST
Multnomah Group

COVID-19 Weekly: Navigating the Coronavirus
March 26, 2020 WEBCAST
Mercer

COVID-19 Town Hall
March 31, 2020 WEBCAST
ERISAfire

Employer Forum on Pharmacy Benefits & Specialty Drugs
June 17, 2020 in IL
Midwest Business Group on Health

HSA Fundamentals
August 20, 2020 WEBCAST
Ascensus

HSAs - Beyond the Fundamentals
August 25, 2020 WEBCAST
Ascensus

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►See 51 Recorded Webcasts


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

[Guidance Overview]

DOL Publishes Initial Guidance on How to Implement Emergency Paid Sick and Paid FMLA Leave

"Although we all anticipated the new law to take effect on April 2, 2020 (i.e., 15 days after President Trump signed the legislation), the DOL set the effective date as April 1, 2020 ... The [DOL Q&A] makes clear that an employer should calculate its total head count each time an employee's leave is to be taken.... [E]mployers must pay an employee for hours the employee would have been normally scheduled to work. However, the DOL confirmed what the law indicates -- that EPSL benefits are capped at 80 hours total over a two-week period. "

FMLA Insights

[Guidance Overview]

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Under the FFCRA

"How do you determine the hourly rate to be paid to hourly employees during paid sick leave? ... If a salesperson is paid a base plus commission, would the commission amounts be included when calculating sick pay? ... Do employees who have been furloughed qualify for paid sick time under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act? ... Is the amount of leave in addition to what an employer may have already given employees during this time off (before the Act was passed)? ... How do you determine whether a business entity or a group of separate but related entities has 500 or more employees under the Act?"

Jackson Walker

[Guidance Overview]

Editor's Pick Answers to Various Questions About the FMLA Amendments and Paid Sick Leave Requirements

"Both new laws apply only to certain covered employers (private employers with fewer than 500 employees, governmental agencies, and schools). These employers need to be ready to provide these leaves starting on April 1, 2020. [This article provides] answers to some frequently asked questions about the FMLA amendments and the new paid sick leave law in addition to recommendations as to how they may be interpreted once the FFCRA is effective."

Ogletree Deakins

[Guidance Overview]

Does FFCRA Apply to Health Care Providers and Emergency Responders?

"Both the FMLA expansion and the paid sick leave legislation indicate that health care providers and emergency responders may be exempted from the leave requirements.... These provisions seem to say that certain employees can be exempt from these laws but not that the employer is exempt."

Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete LLP

[Guidance Overview]

IRS and DOL Issue COVID-19 Related Tax Credit Guidance

"Which employers are eligible for the immediate cash flow relief in the form of employment tax credits? ... How will employers be able to receive the immediate dollar-for-dollar offsets for costs of required paid leave? ... What costs can an employer offset against payroll taxes? ... What if an employer is paying out more in COVID-19-required leave than its payroll tax liability? ... How can employer an employer with fewer than 50 employees obtain an exemption from the requirement to provide the expanded child care leave under the Act due to the cost threatening the viability of the business?"

Hanson Bridgett LLP

[Guidance Overview]

FFCRA Tax Provisions Impacting Governmental Employers

"[T]he Act does not currently allow the payroll tax credits to be claimed by the federal government, or the government of any state or political subdivision thereof, or any agency or instrumentality of the government.... [A] county, municipality, or school district required to make payments to its employees under the Act cannot recoup the cost out of the employer's share of payroll taxes in the same way that a private sector employer may."

von Briesen & Roper, s.c.

[Guidance Overview]

COVID-19: Important ACA Implications, Part 2

"[A]ll hours for which an employee is paid under the new FMLA provision will need to be counted as a hours of service. If an employee elects to have the first two weeks of the new FMLA provision unpaid, the hours will not be included as hours of service.... [A]ll of the time taken under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act will need to be counted as a hours of service.... [An] employer will include these hours of service when tallying an employee's total hours of service during an initial measurement period or a standard measurement period."

Accord

[Guidance Overview]

Employee Leave-Sharing Programs in the Age of COVID-19

"Notwithstanding which arrangement an employer may choose to adopt, employers should consider other aspects of these programs, including [1] administrative complexity, [2] potential cash flow issues ... [3] advisability of donors retaining some level of leave for personal use, [4] potential disappointment by employees who are unable to benefit from the program ... [5] privacy considerations and [6] any state law implications on the ability of an employee to donate particular types of leave."

Sidley Austin LLP

[Guidance Overview]

Washington State Orders Health Insurers to Expand Telehealth, Testing Coverage, Extend Premium Grace Periods

"[Emergency Order 20-02] is in effect for 60 days and requires health insurers to:

  • Expand coverage to additional methods for providing telehealth ...
  • Cover all medically-necessary diagnostic testing for flu and certain other viral respiratory illnesses billed during a provider visit for COVID-19 with no copay, coinsurance or deductible.
  • Treat drive-up testing sites for COVID-19 as provider visit with no copay, coinsurance or deductible....

[The] order creates a minimum 60-day premium grace period for all individual health plans sold outside of the exchange and for all small and large employer health plans. Insurers may choose to extend the grace period beyond 60 days, but if they do so the extension must apply to all enrollees."

Washington Office of Insurance Commissioner

[Guidance Overview]

Puerto Rico Issues New Opinion Regarding Employee Compensation and Available Leaves During the COVID-19 Emergency

"[N]oteworthy aspects of Opinion 2020-02 ... [1] Non-exempt employee's compensation during COVID-19 lockdown ... [2] Exempt employee's compensation during COVID-19 lockdown ... [3] New applicable leaves of absence under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act ... [4] Loans to employees during the state of emergency ... [5] Employers and employees exempt from the application of the imposed lockdown."

Littler

Editor's Pick COBRA FAQ for the COVID-19 Economy

"For medical insurance purposes, can we just continue to treat the furloughed employees as active employees, or must we offer COBRA? ... In light of COVID-19, will the government subsidize COBRA? ... Must I pay for a terminated (or reduced hours) employee’s COBRA coverage? ... May I pay for a terminated (or reduced hours) employee’s COBRA coverage (in full or in part)?  ... May I provide more than 18 months of COBRA coverage to a terminating (or reduced hours) employee?  ... May an employee pay for their COBRA premiums pretax out of severance payments? ... How does COBRA interact with FMLA leave?"

Mintz

Health Plan Considerations in Response to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) (PDF)

"What impact does reduced work hours have on employee eligibility for coverage under the group health plan? ... Are employees permitted to make mid-year election changes under benefit programs due to a reduction in hours? ... What impact does a furlough (i.e., an extended leave) have on employee eligibility for coverage under the group health plan? ... How should employee contributions be handled when the amount of the paycheck is too little to cover the normal deduction, or when there is a period without pay?"

VCG Consultants

Carriers Relax Requirements and Open COVID-19 Special Enrollment Periods

"While some carriers have announced special enrollment periods in response to COVID-19, the Section 125 rules have not yet been revised to allow for cafeteria plan election changes because of COVID-19.... [A]ny mid-year enrollments permitted from a carrier special enrollment period would be provided on a post-tax basis outside of the employer's cafeteria plan. Here are some of the carrier relief plans that have been announced to date."

OneDigital Health and Benefits

Special COVID-19 Health Insurance Enrollment Windows and Waivers

"Many insurers are liberally waiving their normal rules to accommodate the continuation of coverage to employers and employees in their time of need.... There are ERISA and tax law implications to consider that are often left out of the insurer announcements related to coverage enhancements, and employee communications of legal mandates are key."

Jackson Lewis P.C.

Press Releases

Upcoming Events About Health & Welfare Plans

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 Weekly: Navigating the Coronavirus
Mercer
Mar. 26
Webcast
Free
Navigating Employee Benefits in an Evolving COVID-19 Pandemic
Multnomah Group
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

Most Popular Items in the Previous Issue

Text of DOL Q&As for Employers and Employees: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Wage and Hour Division [WHD], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

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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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