Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

May 11, 2020

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View Coronavirus (COVID-19) News and Resources

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Reverses Course on the Application of Qualified Healthcare Expenses to the Employee Retention Tax Credit

"Q&As 64 and 65 now state that employers can claim the ERTC for qualified healthcare expenses, regardless of whether the employee is paid qualified wages.... The revised Q&As clarify this new interpretation with five examples -- in each example, qualified healthcare expenses paid to furloughed employees are considered qualified wages for purposes of the ERTC."

Squire Patton Boggs

[Guidance Overview]

DOL and IRS Issue New COBRA Notices and Extensions

"These extensions are unprecedented, and employers and plan administrators will need to take steps to ensure that participants understand the new rules. Employers and plan administrators may want to consider supplementing and modifying COBRA forms, special enrollment notices, and summary plan descriptions, to reflect these extensions."

Findley

[Guidance Overview]

COBRA, HIPAA Special Enrollment, Claims and Appeals, and ERISA Notice Related Deadlines Extended

"[W]hen the end of this National Emergency Period is announced, it may make sense for plan sponsors to notify plan participants that the National Emergency Period has ended and that their plan deadlines will begin to run again after the Outbreak Period has ended ... Plan sponsors will need to work with their carriers and self-funded medical plan [TPAs] to properly administer these new HIPAA special enrollment deadlines."

Trucker Huss

[Guidance Overview]

Agencies Provide Significant Deadline Extensions for Participants in Employee Benefit Plans

"These rules make significant changes for events that occur during the 'Outbreak Period.' The end date of the Outbreak Period, however, is unknown at this time; this adds additional complexity to the new COVID-19 rules.... There appears to be no requirement to notify participants about the extension of the election and premium payment timeframes.... Depending on the length of the Outbreak Period, many employers will be in their open enrollment period when or soon after the Outbreak Period ends. Even so, some employees will want to exercise their special enrollment rights to get coverage retroactively."

Stevens & Lee

[Guidance Overview]

Important COVID-19 Deadline Extensions for Participants and Beneficiaries, and Limited Relief for Employee Benefit Plans

"The New Regulations raise many questions.... [1] Will the insurers and any other relevant service providers honor these requirements, including the retroactive requirements, or will employers be left with fully self-insured liabilities? ... [2] How does a plan administer different national emergencies /Outbreak Periods, e.g., if each state has a different time frame? ... [3] Is the retroactive date enforceable, and if yes, how does a plan address this? ... [4] How does a plan administrator manage its fiduciary responsibility to operate the plan in accordance with its terms and manage costs for participants, given these delays?"

BakerHostetler

[Guidance Overview]

Pandemic Relief Provided to Health Plans, and to Plan Participants (PDF)

11 pages. "[It's] not clear if the DOL means for the relief provided by Notice 2020-01 to apply to: [1] All ERISA Title I notice and disclosure obligations, including those referenced in the background section, but not specifically addressed in the relief section of the Joint Notice (for example, notice of HIPAA special enrollment rights, explanation of benefits, and other ERISA obligations), or [2] Only ERISA Title I requirements not referenced or specifically addressed at all in the Joint Notice (for example, SPDs, SMM, and SARs)."

Mercer

[Guidance Overview]

Extended Deadlines: Details and Practical Considerations

"These extensions can have a significant impact on the ability of participants, beneficiaries, and claimants to effectively exercise their health coverage portability and continuation coverage rights and to file or perfect their benefit claims. The Joint Notice does not address whether plans must be amended to reflect the temporary extension, which end date is not yet known (and which may be different in different regions of the country).... [C]onsistent with the aims of the Joint Notice and the good faith requirements ... with respect to EBSA guidance, plan sponsors should use their best efforts to communicate this relief to all employees in order to minimize the possibility of individuals losing benefits because of a failure to comply with certain pre-established timeframes."

Ice Miller LLP

[Guidance Overview]

Are You Eligible for COVID-19 Paid Leave?

"Many Americans affected by the coronavirus outbreak will benefit from new workplace protections and relief offered by the [FFCRA]. If you work for a private employer with fewer than 500 employees and are in one of the situations described [in this post], you may be eligible for paid sick leave and/or paid family leave ... The Wage and Hour Division has already completed more than 400 cases for workers denied leave, and has conducted hundreds of outreach events to educate workers and employers about the benefits and protections of this new law."

Wage and Hour Division [WHD], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

New York State Enacts State-Wide Paid Sick Leave Law

"The new obligation is separate and distinct from the New York State Quarantine Leave Law enacted in response to COVID-19. The statewide sick leave law applies to all employers with employees in the state. The law goes into effect on September 30, 2020 when employers must allow employees to start accruing paid sick leave, but employers are not obligated to allow use of sick leave until January 1, 2021."

Jackson Lewis P.C.

Press Releases

Minnesota Center for Employee Ownership Officially Opens
National Center for Employee Ownership [NCEO]

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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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