Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

May 28, 2020

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View COVID-19 News and Resources

[Guidance Overview]

CARES Act Authorizes Limited Employer Repayment of Student Loans

"This limited-time benefit, which is only available during 2020, can be a win-win for employers and employees because it is not taxable to the employee and it is not counted for payroll tax purposes for public agencies that do not contribute to Social Security.... [This] provision of the Act allows employers to pay or reimburse any 'qualified education loan' ... up to $5,250 during the remainder of 2020 under an educational assistance program."

Best Best & Krieger LLP

[Guidance Overview]

Summary of Recent Legislative and Regulatory Changes Impacting Group Health Plans

"Mandated coverage for COVID-19 testing and related items and services.... Mandated coverage for COVID-19 preventive services.... Communication of COVID-19 coverage changes.... Employee assistance programs (EAPs) and COVID-19 testing.... High deductible health plans (HDHPs) and spending accounts.... DOL update to model COBRA notices."

Slevin & Hart, P.C.

[Guidance Overview]

New Guidance Provides Flexibility for Cafeteria Plan Participants to Make Health Plan Elections Mid-Year

"An employer is not required to provide unlimited election changes but may determine the extent to which such election changes are permitted and applied at its discretion, provided that any permitted election changes are applied on a prospective basis only, and the changes to the plan's election requirements satisfy nondiscrimination rules applicable to Cafeteria Plans. This relief may be applied retroactively to periods prior to the issuance of the notice and on or after January 1, 2020."

Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Issues Relief for FSAs and Other Cafeteria Plans

"Employers considering amending their plans in line with the guidance should consider their unique circumstances and all possible outcomes. To get started, think the through the following: [1] The potential for adverse selection.... [2] How HSA use may be impacted.... [3] Budget capacity.... [4] Administrative capacity."

HealthEquity

[Guidance Overview]

COBRA, HIPAA, and Claim Deadline Extensions are Optional for State and Local Governmental Group Health Plans

"Some governmental entities may choose not to extend any of these deadlines due to administrative challenges that may arise from allowing participants and beneficiaries a significantly longer time to request enrollment following a HIPAA special enrollment event, provide the required COBRA notifications, pay COBRA premiums, or submit benefit claims and appeals. Governmental entities that do voluntarily extend some or all of these deadlines should confirm that its carrier (if fully insured) or stop-loss carrier (if self-funded) will honor these extensions, especially since these deadline extensions are optional."

Miller Johnson

COVID-19: Paid Leave for Employees Around the World (PDF)

29 pages. This guide offers an overview of legal aspects of paid leave in the following jurisdictions: Austria; Brazil; Canada (Quebec); Chile; China; Czech Republic; England; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; India; The Netherlands; Romania; Russia; Sweden; Thailand; and the United States (Overview, Massachusetts, and New York).

International Lawyers Network

Most Employers Help Their Furloughed Employees Pay for COBRA Coverage

"[E]mployers are handling health care benefits for furloughed employees in a variety of ways: 7 percent are providing employee health care coverage through COBRA, with the worker paying the full cost; 38 percent are continuing health care coverage for the entire period, with the cost shared as usual between worker and employer; 23 percent are continuing health care coverage for the entire period, with the employer paying the full cost; 25 percent are continuing health care coverage for a limited time, with the cost shared as usual between worker and employer; and 7 percent are continuing health care coverage for a limited time, with the employer paying the full cost."

Wolters Kluwer; free registration required

How to Plan for a Virtual Benefits Open Enrollment

"Provide an on-demand HR experience via technology.... Execute a quality virtual benefits fair.... Invest in quality decision support and educational tools.... Proactively personalize communications based on history."

Tango Health

[Opinion]

Health Insurers Don't Need Federal 'Risk Corridors'

"The 'risk corridor' provisions that were added at the last minute to the House-passed Heroes Act would provide an unnecessary benefit for health insurers and do not merit inclusion in the next COVID-19 relief bill. With no indication that health insurers' net costs are rising due to the pandemic, even well-designed risk corridors should be a low priority for federal legislation compared to other, far more urgent needs. But features of the House bill provisions provide a subsidy to insurers, with minimal benefit to consumers."

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]

DOL and IRS Extend Deadlines for Employee Benefit Plans and Plan Participants

"Notwithstanding the relief provided to plan fiduciaries in the guidance, the Notice reiterates that plan fiduciaries have an ongoing fiduciary duty to act reasonably, prudently, and in the interest of participants. The DOL notes that plans should make reasonable accommodations to prevent the loss of benefits or undue delay in benefits payments, and particularly reduce the risk of participants losing benefits because of the plan's failure to comply with pre-established timeframes."

Slevin & Hart, P.C.

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Despite Prohibition on Cost-Sharing, Could Health Plan Deny Coverage for Cost of COVID-19 Retesting?

"Because there is a higher incidence of COVID-19 positive test results for residents of a long-term care facility (a nursing home), State X mandates that all residents and staff at the facility be tested for COVID-19 by a specified date. Those individuals who test negative are required to be retested within one week to rule out a false negative on the first test. There will only be a second retest if and to the extent that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mandates it. My question is, in light of the no cost-sharing of COVID-19 testing imposed by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, as applied to a self-funded plan, does this mean that the plan (or employer) is saddled with the cost of conducting the testing? Can the plan deny coverage for the retest as not medically necessary?"

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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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