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View Coronavirus (COVID-19) News and Resources

[Official Guidance]

Text of Updated IRS FAQs on COVID-19-Related Employee Retention Credits: Amount of Allocable Qualified Health Plan Expenses

The IRS has updated FAQs 64 and 65 and added new FAQ 79 regarding businesses that repay their Paycheck Protection Program loan by May 14, 2020.

Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

[Official Guidance]

Text of HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2021; Notice Requirement for Non-Federal Governmental Plans

"This final rule sets forth payment parameters and provisions related to the risk adjustment and risk adjustment data validation programs; cost-sharing parameters and cost-sharing reductions; and user fees for Federally-facilitated Exchanges and State-based Exchanges on the Federal platform. It also finalizes changes related to essential health benefits and will provide states with additional flexibility in the operation and establishment of Exchanges. The rule includes changes related to cost sharing for prescription drugs; notice requirements for excepted benefit health reimbursement arrangements offered by non-Federal governmental plan sponsors; Exchange eligibility and enrollment; exemptions from the requirement to maintain coverage; quality rating information display standards for Exchanges; and other related topics."

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]

[Guidance Overview]

Text of HHS Fact Sheet on 2021 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters Final Rule (PDF)

"Overall, the final rule minimizes the number of significant regulatory changes to provide states and issuers with a more stable and predictable regulatory framework that facilitates a more efficient and competitive market. These changes further the Administration’s goals of lowering premiums, promoting program integrity, stabilizing markets, enhancing the consumer experience, and reducing regulatory burden."

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]

[Guidance Overview]

Text of HHS Key Dates for Calendar Year 2020 (PDF)

"This [4-page chart] summarizes key dates for calendar year 2020 regarding some activities and policies that are outlined in other documents."

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]

[Guidance Overview]

CMS Announces Final Payment Notice for 2021 Coverage Year

"The final Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for the 2021 benefit year ... contains several provisions intended to promote affordable insurance coverage, including a blueprint for issuers to design innovative healthcare plans that empower consumers to receive high value services at lower costs.... The rule also makes it easier for individual market issuers to offer wellness incentives to enrollees by explicitly recognizing certain incentives as quality improvement activities (QIA)."

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]

[Guidance Overview]

Agencies Extend Timeframes for HIPAA, COBRA and Claims Actions

"The rules regarding the extension of timeframes for submitting claims also apply to health flexible spending accounts and health reimbursement arrangements ... [It] is not clear whether the rules apply to dependent care assistance plan claims because these plans are not subject to ERISA.... Some individuals whose deadline for taking action ended during the Outbreak Period may have had their request for special enrollment, COBRA election, premium payment, or claim/appeal submission previously rejected as untimely.... [T]hese actions would now be deemed timely."


[Guidance Overview]

Paid Family and Medical Leave Under New Massachusetts Law (PDF)

15 pages. "Massachusetts employers should now be in compliance with the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave, which came into effect October 1, 2019, for payroll deductions. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the law and the final regulations, guidance, and other information issued by the state."

Holland & Knight, via Employee Relations Law Journal

CMS Finalizes Changes to ACA Plans for 2021, Pushes Back Deadlines Due to COVID-19

"The initial deadline for applications for qualified health plans is June 17 and the deadline to change any applications is Aug. 26. Open enrollment is still set for Nov. 1.... One of the biggest changes is on drug manufacturer coupons ... The final rules said that coupons and other support can count towards the annual limit for cost-sharing such as deductibles, even if a generic is available."


IRS Provides Additional Time to Contribute to HSAs

"[C]ontributions to HSAs may be made up until July 15, 2020. Additionally, if excess contributions had been made in 2019 and were treated as being taxable, individuals can avoid the 6% excise tax if the excess amount (plus income on that amount) is withdrawn by July 15, 2020. This does not apply to contributions that were made via salary reduction or if deductions were taken on the excess amounts. Contributions must be taxable."

Fraser Trebilcock

Companies Move to Enhance Health Care and Wellbeing Programs in Response to COVID-19

"[N]early half of respondents (47%) are enhancing health care benefits, 45% are broadening wellbeing programs, and 33% plan to make changes to paid time off (PTO) or vacation programs. And while some companies are reducing costs in other ways -- furloughs, pay cuts and reductions in 401(k) matching contributions -- many are preserving wellbeing plans at a time when employees are facing significant challenges."

Willis Towers Watson

House Legislation Would Protect Federal Employee Unused Leave During Coronavirus Pandemic

"A new bill in the House would ensure that federal workers who cannot take vacation this year due to the coronavirus pandemic ... would not lose their paid leave.... The bill would allow federal employees whose work is part of the COVID-19 response effort to roll over all of their unused leave to 2021. Currently, most federal workers are only allowed to roll over 240 hours, or 30 days, of paid annual leave per year."

Government Executive

Equalizing Federal and State Parental Leave Laws for Single-Parent Families

"Drawing on models used in other countries, this Article proposes that parents with sole custody should be eligible to receive an extended period of benefits, which they could use themselves or transfer to a different familial caregiver. This approach would not unduly burden businesses, because the financing mechanism for these laws already spreads costs across the tax base."

Deborah A. Widiss, via SSRN

Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]

DOL and IRS Provide Relief on Deadlines

"The DOL indicates it will focus on compliance assistance instead of enforcement during this time.... The relief does not require employers to issue a broad-based notice about the suspension of the deadlines or to change forms."

Dorsey & Whitney LLP

[Guidance Overview]

Agencies Extend Certain Deadlines for Employee Plans During COVID-19 National Emergency

"The Joint Rule generally provides that the Outbreak Period must be disregarded for purposes of ... Special enrollment periods ... Deadlines for [COBRA] notices, elections and Payments ... Time periods for claims, appeals and request for external review.... Note that the extensions do not apply to the plan sponsor’s obligations to timely decide submitted benefit claims and appeals."

Sidley Austin LLP

Steps Plan Sponsors Should Take to Implement the FFCRA and the CARES Act

Steps are grouped by "now," "soon," and "in the future," pertaining to various health plan and leave provisions of the FFCRA, and retirement plan provisions of the CARES Act.

International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

Most Popular Items in the Previous Issue

Text of Updated DOL FFCRA Questions and Answers: New Q&As 89-93
Wage and Hour Division [WHD], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL], Inc.
1298 Minnesota Avenue, Suite H
Winter Park, Florida 32789
(407) 644-4146

Lois Baker, J.D., President
David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher
Holly Horton, Business Manager

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BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2020, 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, 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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