Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

May 6, 2020

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View Coronavirus (COVID-19) News and Resources

[Guidance Overview]

Editor's Pick Claiming Tax Benefits for Health Coverage Costs Under the CARES Act Employee Retention Credit

"For fully insured plans, the determination of health insurance costs will include the employer's share of the premium paid to the insurer. For self-insured plans, the cost appears to be the claims paid and related costs, such as stop-loss insurance. The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (CIAB) has asked regulators to allow self-insured plans to use COBRA rates, to protect employers from significant disruptions in claims activity on account of the COVID-19 virus."

Lockton

[Guidance Overview]

DOL Releases New Model COBRA Notices Amid Continued Wave of Litigation

"The new general notice and election notice are nearly identical to their prior versions, with the exception of new sections explaining how Medicare eligibility affects COBRA participants. In particular, the new language outlines the Medicare election obligations and how these rules impact Medicare-eligible employees who have just lost their employer-sponsored active employee coverage. The new language also highlights that COBRA coverage usually pays secondary to Medicare[.]"

Littler

[Guidance Overview]

Federal Agencies Extend Deadlines for COBRA and Health Plan Claims, Appeals, and Special Enrollments

"Plans should consider some type of notification to COBRA participants of the consequence of not paying the full COBRA premium at the end of the Outbreak Period (i.e., the plan will not cover claims from any month for which the premiums are not paid in full at the end of the Outbreak Period). It is important that COBRA participants understand this consequence, as failure to pay premiums could leave some claims unpaid for reimbursement to medical providers, who may look to recoup the costs from the patient."

The Wagner Law Group

[Guidance Overview]

ACA Round-Up: COVID-19 Delays, New COBRA Guidance, and More

"CMS announced it would delay enforcement of parts of the program integrity rule and offer flexibility to states with the Basic Health Program (BHP). CMS separately issued guidance on the risk adjustment program, utilization management, the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) reconciliation process, audit submission deadlines for enhanced direct enrollment (EDE) entities, and the user fee collection process for state-based marketplaces on the federal platform (SBM-FP). The Departments of Labor and Treasury also issued a new COVID-19-related notice to extend certain timeframes related to group health plans."

Katie Keith, in Health Affairs

[Guidance Overview]

Los Angeles County Requires Employers to Pay COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave

"The ordinance requires nongovernmental employers that employ, directly or indirectly, 500 or more employees nationally who are not covered by the FFCRA or the governor's executive order applicable to food sector workers to provide supplemental paid COVID-19-related sick leave to employees who perform work within the unincorporated areas of the county. The effective date of the ordinance is March 31 and it expires on Dec. 31, 2020, unless the board extends it."

McGuireWoods

[Guidance Overview]

Expanded Wage Replacement Entitlements for California Employees Caring for Children During COVID-19 School Closures

"Several cities in California responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with an expansion of their local paid sick leave ordinances to cover leave necessitated by the closure of a school or childcare due to a COVID-19 public health emergency.... Since mid-March, the Cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose, as well as the County of Los Angeles, have also passed local supplemental paid sick leave ordinances that require paid leaves for employees caring for children whose schools or childcare are not available due to COVID-19. These ordinances only covered larger employers exempted from the FFCRA requirements."

Jackson Lewis P.C.

[Guidance Overview]

Resources for Frequently Asked Questions on the Affordable Care Act (PDF)

46 pages. "This report provides resources to help congressional staff respond to constituents' frequently asked questions about the ACA. The report lists selected resources regarding consumers, employers, and other stakeholders, with a focus on federal sources. It also lists [CRS] reports that summarize the ACA's provisions." [Report R43215, updated May 5, 2020]

Congressional Research Service [CRS]

New California Bill Would Mandate Up to 10 Days of Bereavement Leave

"The bill would require employers in California to provide employees with 'up to 10 business days of unpaid bereavement leave,' and to refrain from interfering with or restraining employees from taking such leave. The days of leave would not need to be consecutive; however, the leave must be completed within three months following the death of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or domestic partner."

Ogletree Deakins

Benefits in General

[Official Guidance]

IRS Announces Tax Relief for Oregon Victims of Severe Storms, Flooding, Landslides and Mudslides

"Victims of the severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides that began on Feb. 5, 2020, in Oregon may qualify for tax relief ... [C]ertain deadlines falling on or after Feb. 5, 2020, and before April 1, 2020, are granted additional time to file through July 15, 2020.... This is in addition to the nationwide Coronavirus-related relief already available to taxpayers on returns, payments and other time-sensitive actions occurring on or after April 1, 2020 and before July 15, 2020."

Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

Editor's Pick DOL National Online Dialogue: Opening America's Workplaces Again

"[The DOL] is hosting a national online dialogue to solicit ideas about challenges that may be faced as businesses reopen and how best to help employers and workers reopen America's workplaces safely. We want to hear from you -- America's employers and workers. Join your fellow citizens and share your best ideas about [1] reopening businesses, [2] commuting safely, [3] working safely, [4] accommodating members of vulnerable populations, [5] supporting America's families, and [6] reducing regulatory burdens. Don't miss your chance -- please share your feedback by Thursday, May 7!"

U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

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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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