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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

April 28, 2021

2 New Job Opportunities


[Guidance Overview]

Exceptional Usefulness and Quality icon You’ve Sent the COBRA Special Extended Election Period Notices – What’s Next?

"[F]or qualified beneficiaries who become entitled to COBRA coverage during the period from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021 ... [t]he normal deadlines for plan administrators to provide COBRA notices apply. However, the rules governing the deadlines for participant elections are a bit more complex."  MORE >>


[Guidance Overview]

COBRA Subsidy: You've Got Questions ... We've Got Answers

"A recent Ogletree Deakins webinar on the COBRA coverage subsidy under [ARPA] produced more questions than the presenters could address during the webinar. [This article provides] answers to some of the most common and interesting questions[.]"  MORE >>

Ogletree Deakins

[Guidance Overview]

New York DOL Releases Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccination Leave

"[E]mployers are not required to pay this benefit retroactively to employees who have already taken leave prior to March 12, 2021 ... [E]mployees are only entitled to paid leave for their own vaccination.... Employers may also require employees provide proof of vaccination in order to receive the leave."  MORE >>

Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP

Release of Claims Fails to Block ERISA Lawsuit

"IKEA argued plaintiff could not assert his ERISA claim [for retiree healthcare coverage] because the release he signed [had released 'any and all claims, known and unknown, asserted or unasserted,' he had under ERISA]. Plaintiff responded that the claim did not exist as of the date he signed the release and therefore is not covered by the release. The trial court ... found the plaintiff's arguments more persuasive and denied IKEA's motion to dismiss because the ERISA claim did not arise until after the release was signed." [Anastos v. IKEA Property, Inc., No. 19-3702 (N.D. Ga. Mar. 17, 2021)]  MORE >>

Hodgson Russ LLP

Employee Handbook Created Contract Despite Disclaimer

"The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed that contract disclaimer provisions in a handbook did not allow an employer to refuse to pay a former employee paid time off (PTO) leave accrued in accordance with its handbook.... The court found the 'broad and general contract disclaimer language' in the handbook's introduction ambiguous as to its applicability to the PTO policy." [Hall v. City of Plainview, Minn., A19-0606 (Minn. Feb. 3, 2021)]  MORE >>

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

GAO Report: Prescription Drugs -- U.S. Prices for Selected Brand Drugs Were Higher on Average than Prices in Australia, Canada, and France

"GAO's analysis of 2020 data found that, for 20 selected brand-name prescription drugs, estimated U.S. prices paid at the retail level by consumers and other payers (such as insurers) were more than two to four times higher than prices in three selected comparison countries.... The price differences varied by drug." [GAO-21-282, pub. Mar. 29, 2021; released Apr. 28, 2021]  MORE >>

U.S. Government Accountability Office [GAO]

Nearly One-Third of U.S. Workers Concerned About Repercussions from Taking a Leave of Absence

"Thirty-one percent of U.S. workers say they are fearful of workplace repercussions ... if they take leave, and 29% believe there is a negative perception associated with taking leave.... Half of Gen Z/younger Millennials (50%) say they are fearful of workplace repercussions for taking leave compared with 41% of older Millennials, 30% of Gen X and only 16% of Baby Boomers. "  MORE >>

The Hartford

Selected State Health Benefit Developments, First Quarter 2021

"San Francisco has postponed its employer healthcare reporting; New York has updated its covered-lives assessment; and Georgia is considering claim-reporting obligations for some self-insured ERISA plans. New insurance laws and regulations focus on patient cost sharing, balance billing and infertility coverage. Paid leave laws received consideration and, in some areas, expanded due to COVID-19."  MORE >>


Benefits in General

Second Circuit: Claims of ERISA Fiduciary Breach Do Not 'Relate To' Employment for Purpose of Employment-Based Arbitration Agreement:

"With a 2-1 split decision, the Second Circuit reversed and remanded a district court decision compelling a former employee to arbitrate his ERISA fiduciary breach claims, although the defendant was not a party to the agreement requiring arbitration of employment-related claims." [Cooper v. Ruane Cunniff & Goldfarb Inc., No. 17-2805 (2d Cir. Mar. 4, 2021)]  MORE >>

Hodgson Russ LLP

Strategies to Help Thwart Ransomware Attacks on Your Plans and Trusts

"Cybercriminals seek easy targets, and the return on investment can be worth their efforts even when they target small organizations.... [1] Identify your crown jewels.... [2] Educate your employees.... [3] Keep your systems up to date.... [4] Employ multifactor authentication.... [5] Prepare for the 'when' rather than the 'if.' "  MORE >>

International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

Personnel Files: Going Digital While Staying Compliant

"[M]oving toward a paperless future may raise questions about keeping records secure, especially when it comes to sensitive records such as personnel files. While the law does allow for electronic document maintenance, employers must remain mindful of the regulations that govern paperless retention, as well as security best practices."  MORE >>

Cassell Plan Audits

Employee Benefits Jobs

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for Definiti Retirement Plan Consultant


Telecommute / The Woodlands TX

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View job as Consulting Actuary - Mid-Size Plan Market
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Telecommute / The Woodlands TX

View job as Consulting Actuary - Mid-Size Plan Market
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Press Releases

Integrated Benefits Institute Names Joseph Aller as Director of Analytics and Research

Integrated Benefits Institute

Empower Retirement Delivers Broad View of Personal Finances Through New Digital Experience

Empower Retirement

Akerman Expands Tax Practice Group with Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Partner Gabriel Marinaro in Chicago


Webcasts and Conferences
(Health & Welfare Plans)

Mergers and Acquisitions: H&W Employee Benefit Plans

May 18, 2021 WEBCAST

ABD Insurance & Financial Services

Leave in the Time of COVID: Managing Leave Requests under FMLA, ADA

May 20, 2021 WEBCAST

The Comply Guide

Last Issue's Most Popular Items

Latest COVID Relief Bill Expands the Number of Individuals Who Can Trigger Employer Penalties Under the ACA


Applicability of COVID-19 Relief Legislation and Guidance to Health and Welfare Plans (PDF)

Groom Law Group, via Thomson Reuters Practical Law

Fee Disclosures Coming for Group Health Plans

Dickinson Wright PLLC

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BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9587.

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