Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

May 26, 2020

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Webcasts, Conferences

New State & Local Government Financial Wellness Grants Proposal Process
May 28, 2020 WEBCAST
Center for State and Local Government Excellence

Why the Coronavirus Could End Employer-based Health Insurance
June 2, 2020 WEBCAST
N4one HR and Benefits

Telehealth: Where We Were, Where We Are, and Where We Are Headed
June 2, 2020 WEBCAST
West LegalEdcenter

ERISA Basics National Institute 6-Part Series
June 15, 2020 WEBCAST
American Bar Association Joint Committee on Employee Benefits [JCEB]

Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program
June 18, 2020 WEBCAST
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor

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View Coronavirus (COVID-19) News and Resources

[Official Guidance]

Text of IRS Proposed Guidance Clarifying Premium Tax Credit Unaffected by Suspension of Personal Exemption Deduction

17 pages. "This document includes proposed regulations under sections 36B and 6011 of the Internal Revenue Code  that clarify that the reduction of the personal exemption deduction to zero for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026, does not affect an individual taxpayer's ability to claim the premium tax credit."

Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

[Guidance Overview]

Reopening Health Plan Elections Mid-Year? IRS Leaves It Up to Employers

"[E]mployers have complete discretion to design and implement the allowed changes, or not allow any changes at all.... [E]mployers should consider ... [1] The direct financial cost of allowing employees to drop or add coverage, especially if healthy employees drop plan coverage and employees with high-cost claims remain on the plan. [2] Any applicable minimum participation requirements, if the plan is fully-insured. [3] The additional administration in reviewing and processing the election changes."

Littler

[Guidance Overview]

You Thought PCORI Fees and Filings Were Dead

"As part of the the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, the PCORI annual filing and fees were reinstated for an additional 10 years, through 2029. That means that all employers (or their insurers in fully insured group health plans) must file the annual IRS Form 720 by July 31st, regardless of their plan year.... [T]he 'updated' IRS Form 720 from January, 2020 has the wrong plan year dates ... Further, with the filing of the Form 720 fees must also be paid for all participants."

Kushner & Company

Tenth Circuit Enforces Plan's Choice-of-Law Provision as a Matter of Federal Common Law

"The central issue on appeal was whether the Court's review of the decision to deny plaintiff his claim for long-term disability benefits should be governed by the highly deferential arbitrary and capricious standard of review, or reviewed de novo. The plaintiff commenced the action in Colorado, but the policy had a choice-of-law provision that required the application of Pennsylvania law. Which law to apply was of paramount importance because Colorado state law bans discretion-granting clauses while Pennsylvania does not." [Ellis v. Liberty Life Assurance Co. of Boston, No. 19-1074 (10th Cir. May 13, 2020)]

Proskauer

California Appeals Court Examines Unlimited Vacation Policies

"The court noted that employers can't sidestep the California vacation-payout law and vesting rights by simply failing to specify the amount of vacation available to employees. Offering vacation time in an undefined amount merely presents a problem of proof as to what the employer's policy provides." [McPherson v. EF Intercultural Foundation, Inc., No. B290869 (Cal. App. 2d, Apr. 1, 2020)]

Mercer

Employers Consider Changes to PTO Policies as Unused Vacation Days Accumulate

"[One company] has ruled out letting employees carry over time or paying them for their unused time ... [as this] would be prohibitively expensive with about one-third of the employees entitled to at least four weeks off. One option under consideration is letting employees donate unused vacation time to a bank that could be tapped by colleagues facing extraordinary circumstances. Another is mandating employees to take some time off by a certain date."

Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]; membership may be required to view article

Wellbeing Survey Reveals Some Disconnect

"Almost 100% of employers who participated [in a recent survey] are highly committed to fostering employee wellbeing, as well as providing an environment that does so. ... Only a third of employers believe they encourage healthy eating and drinking habits in the workplace. Virtually the same number are of the opinion their mental health program helps employees manage stress and maintain emotional wellbeing. On top of that, only 40% of employers believe they encourage and directly enable exercise and active living."

Chelko Center for Benefits Management

House Aid Bill Aims to Boost Health Benefits, COVID-19 Leave, Retention

"The coronavirus relief bill passed by the House May 15 would subsidize COBRA coverage, ease restrictions on cafeteria plans and flexible spending arrangements (FSAs), offer reinsurance for certain COVID-19 costs incurred by employer health plans, and impose new health plan mandates.... [The HEROES Act (HR 6800)] has no chance of Senate passage but provides a blueprint for negotiations with Senate Republicans and the White House on a final package."

Mercer

[Opinion]

Employee Health Screening Apps Are Coming

"[E]mployers must ensure that ... any medical or other personal information the employer obtains is stored confidentially and separate from employees' personnel files.... Employers must also consider the inevitable data leaks and hacks that will arise from these third party apps.... [O]ne of the giant corporations [developing such apps] is also a massive, nationwide health insurer ... [for whom] every bit of granular data it can extract about your employees allows it to increase your premium as well as its shareholders' profits."

Benefit Revolution

Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]

IRS and DOL Issue Sweeping Deadline Relief for Benefit Plan Participants and Plan Sponsors

"[E]mployers should make every effort to comply with any required action, notice, or disclosure when originally due.... [E]mployers should document their good-faith efforts to comply and, where applicable, compliance with any other relief-specific eligibility requirements. The same approach should be taken with respect to any delayed employee benefit-related, time-sensitive actions."

Jones Walker

Editor's Pick Benefit Plans in the 'COVID-19 Era': Careful Review Now Will Avoid Being a Target When Litigation Soars

"Given the unprecedented number of employment changes -- including layoffs, furloughs, reductions in hours, reductions in pay, and changes in employment practices (e.g., mandated temperature taking and testing as a precursor to return to work) -- a hygiene check on how employee benefits are being handled is more important than ever. [This article provides] a list of certain challenges anticipated by the reviewing agencies and/or plaintiffs' bar in a post-pandemic environment."

Michael Best

Press Releases

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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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