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January 26, 2021 logo logo
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[Guidance Overview]

Mental Health Parity Compliance Gets a Boost in 2021 Spending Act

"The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 requires group health plans and issuers that cover mental health/substance use disorder (MH/SUD) and medical/surgical (M/S) benefits to prepare a comparative analysis of any nonquantitative treatment limits (NQTLs) that apply. Beginning Feb. 10, plans must supply this analysis and other information if requested by federal regulators ... The new law also requires agencies to prepare an annual report to Congress on these requests and to issue compliance program and additional NQTL guidance." Icon to read more


[Guidance Overview]

COBRA Administration Issues Emerge During COVID-19 Outbreak Period (PDF)

"[This] article analyzes emerging COBRA administration issues caused by the ongoing COVID-19 related COBRA deadline extensions. Legal paths to the end of the COVID-19 national emergency (and a corresponding end to the extension of certain COBRA deadlines) are analyzed. New best practices have emerged in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and additional action items are suggested for group health plan sponsors and COBRA administrators." Icon to read more

Barclay Damon LLP

[Guidance Overview]

EEOC Issues Opinion Letter on ICHRAs and the ADEA (PDF)

"The EEOC makes clear that providing a greater level of compensation to older employees because of their older age does not violate the ADEA -- regardless of whether the contributions reflect a percentage of the employee's premium for individual health insurance or whether the amounts increase with an employee's age based on other terms." Icon to read more

Cowden Associates, Inc.

[Guidance Overview]

2020-2021 PCORI Fee Will Increase by 12 Cents, to $2.66

"Plans must report and pay their 2020 fee on Form 720 due by August 2, 2021 (since July 31 is a Saturday). The payment amount is calculated by multiplying the 'applicable dollar amount' by the 'average number of covered lives' for the plan year." Icon to read more


[Guidance Overview]

New Guidance Changes the Landscape for New York State COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave

"New York employers must provide additional NYS COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave beyond what was long assumed to be a capped 14-day sick leave benefit for large and public sector employers.... [T]his Guidance ... appears to create obligations for employers that go beyond the requirements of the underlying statutory language." Icon to read more

Hodgson Russ LLP

[Guidance Overview]

New York State Issues Additional Guidance on COVID-19 Quarantine Leave Law

"Under the new guidance, an employee who receives a positive diagnostic test for COVID-19 after previously completing a period of quarantine or isolation shall be deemed to be subject to a second mandatory order of quarantine or isolation and shall be entitled to leave under the COVID-19 leave law, even if the employee has already taken leave for the first period of quarantine or isolation." Icon to read more


[Guidance Overview]

City of Oakland Extends Its Emergency Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

"The amended ordinance applies retroactively to December 31, 2020, and will remain in effect until the City's Declaration of COVID-19 Emergency expires.... Like the original ordinance, the amended ordinance provides full-time employees with 80 hours of Emergency Paid Sick leave. However, the amended ordinance states that employers are only required to provide Emergency Paid Sick leave on a one-time basis.... The amended ordinance does not change the reasons for which Emergency Paid Sick leave may be taken." Icon to read more

Jackson Lewis

[Guidance Overview]

Massachusetts Leave of Absence Obligations and the COVID-19 Pandemic

"If the employee has no symptoms, it is likely he or she will not be entitled to leave under the PFML or FMLA, because that person is not deemed to have a serious health condition. The [Earned Sick Time Law (EST)] allows leave, however, for 'preventative care,' which has been interpreted to cover quarantines. The Massachusetts attorney general has specifically instructed that the EST can be used when a public health official or a health care provider either requires or recommends that an employee or the employee's family member quarantine." Icon to read more


ERISA Payroll Practice Exception for Disability Benefits

"The ERISA payroll practice exception provides employers with a rare plan design opportunity to choose whether to offer an ERISA or non-ERISA program for benefits listed in the ERISA Section 3(1) definition of an 'employee welfare benefit plan.' This decision most often arises with respect to short-term disability benefits, which is a nice fit for the payroll practice exception given that (unlike long-term disability benefits) it is frequently self-insured." Icon to read more

ABD Insurance & Financial Services

More Consumers Willing to Share Lifestyle Data for Behavior-Based Insurance Premiums, But Trust in Data Security Falls

"[A]pproximately seven out of 10 consumers (69%) say they would share significant data on their health, exercise and driving habits in exchange for lower prices from their insurers, compared with 58% two years ago. In addition, two-thirds (66%) of consumers say they would also share significant data for personalized services to prevent injury and loss -- up from 54% in the 2019 report." Icon to read more


FCC Announces Initial Connected Care Pilot Program Projects for Telehealth

"On January 15, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the initial pilot projects selected for the Connected Care Pilot Program for telehealth services. The list includes 14 pilot projects spanning 11 states and more than 150 treatment sites ... [covering] a broad range of services aimed at establishing and improving telehealth services, also referred to as connected care services, especially for low-income and veteran patients. The awarded funds were awarded primarily to programs that intend to provide internet connectivity, broadband access, remote patient monitoring and video visit capabilities to low income and rural communities." Icon to read more

Sheppard Mullin

Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]

Consolidated Appropriations Act: Employee Benefits Provisions (PDF)

"[The CAA] includes many benefits and tax provisions affecting employers, group health plan sponsors, health benefits brokers and health insurance issuers. Some provisions are currently effective, while others begin on future dates. This Compliance Overview summarizes the employee benefits provisions relating to tax-favored accounts, surprise medical billing, health plan transparency and mental health parity. It also includes various tax credits, exclusions and deductions that may be of interest to employers, along with a brief discussion of key retirement plan provisions." Icon to read more

Cowden Associates, Inc.

2020 in Review: EBSA ERISA Enforcement

"Total monetary recoveries increased for the fifth year in a row, due to another year of historically high recoveries from EBSA's civil enforcement actions.... In FY 2020, 59 criminal investigations were closed with guilty pleas or convictions -- down from FY 2019's total of 80 -- representing the second year in a row where there was a decrease in the rate of results when compared to the increased total number of investigations closed[.]" Icon to read more

Eversheds Sutherland

Employees Aren't Eager to Return to the Office Post-COVID

"March 2021 will mark a year since the majority of U.S. employees had to switch to a remote work environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.... [T]here is a disconnect between employers and employees when it comes to what the return to work may look like post-pandemic. Both agree that there will be some kind of hybrid model, where employees split their time between the home and office ... However, how often employees will work remotely is disputed between the two groups." Icon to read more


Press Releases

Most Popular Items in the Previous Issue

Biden Administration to Review Rules for Employee Health and Retirement Plans
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]; membership may be required to view article

View COVID-19 News and Resources, Inc.
56 Creeksong Road
Whittier, North Carolina 28789
(407) 644-4146

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

BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2021, 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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