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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

August 31, 2021

3 New Job Opportunities


[Guidance Overview]

Exceptional Usefulness and Quality icon Handling Commuter Account Balances When Expenses Dry Up

"The Section 132 rules that apply to tax-advantaged commuter benefits prohibit any refunds or cash outs (even on a taxable basis) of the remaining account balance. However, new IRS guidance permits employees to roll over any unused mass transit/vanpooling commuter account balance to the parking benefit balance, and vice versa."  MORE >>


[Guidance Overview]

Agencies Delay Transparency Rules for Healthcare Pricing

"While the new guidance doesn't change the law, it clarifies several provisions of the CAA, and ... delays enforcement of the following healthcare price transparency rules: [1] The requirement to disclose new advanced EOBs ... [2] The requirement to implement a 'price comparison tool' ... [3] The requirement to report drug cost information to federal regulators ... [4] The requirement to disclose to the public health plan pricing information related to in-network rates, out-of-network allowed costs, and prescription drug prices."  MORE >>

Corporate Synergies

[Guidance Overview]

Vaccine Mandates: Denying Requests for Religious Accommodation in the Name of Safety

"Many employees are invoking religion to avoid getting the vaccine.... [P]olitical or social philosophies, as well as mere personal preferences, are not religious beliefs protected by Title VII.... [An] employer is not required to accommodate an employee's religious beliefs and practices if doing so would impose an 'undue hardship' on the employer's legitimate business interests.... Title VII does not require that the religious beliefs of an employee be prioritized above safety in the workplace."  MORE >>

Foley & Lardner LLP

Employer Vaccine Requirements: Frequently Asked Questions

"While [this commentary] is based on federal law and will apply in most jurisdictions, employers should consult applicable state and local laws. At least one state (Montana) has prohibited private employers from mandating COVID-19 vaccination and recognizes vaccination status as a protected category, prohibiting employment discrimination based on vaccination status."  MORE >>

Husch Blackwell

Should You Offer Cheaper Health Plan Coverage in 2022 for Vaccinated Employees?

"Consider that a two-tiered premium pricing structure could be phrased in one of two ways -- as a penalty for unvaccinated workers, or as a discount for vaccinated workers.... [Be] mindful to not have too large a gap between the two price points.... [Separate] the health plan enrollment forms and any vaccine medical exemption documentation from the general employment files.... [Consider] whether a bifurcated premium must first be subject to the bargaining process prior to being imposed on that segment of the population."  MORE >>


Time for Another Virtual Open Enrollment: Keep It Simple, But Significant

"To make the most of open enrollment, keep things simple and focus on what matters.... If the renewal has no changes or limited changes, consider a Passive enrollment and eliminate the virtual meeting.... If there are significant changes at renewal, detailed communication to your team is essential."  MORE >>


Survey Highlights COVID's Impact on Site of Care and Well-Being

"More than 90% of employers are concerned about COVID's long-term impact on deferred care (particularly related to cancer diagnosis and treatment) and employee mental health.... While mental health service access is still the prevailing focus for 76% of employers, 57% named stigma as one of their top three areas of concern for employee well-being."  MORE >>

HealthLeaders Media

Ed Asner's SAG-AFTRA Health Plan Lawsuit Likely to Keep Moving Forward

"Just a day after Ed Asner's death at 91-years-old, it seems a lawsuit he [led] against the SAG-AFTRA Health Fund will survive a motion to dismiss filed by the plan and its trustees.... The suit said 'draconian' changes were made amid the COVID-19 pandemic causing premiums to skyrocket and medical coverage to stripped from elderly guild members.... U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder on [August 30] ... [issued] a tentative ruling to the parties that would allow the claims to proceed." [Asner v. The SAG-AFTRA Health Fund, No. 20-10914 (C.D. Cal. tentative decision filed Aug. 30, 2021)]  MORE >>

The Hollywood Reporter

Telehealth's Limits: Battle Over State Lines and Licensing Threatens Patients' Options

"Most states and [CMS] temporarily waived rules requiring licensed clinicians to hold a valid license in the state where their patient is located.... Now states are rolling back many of those pandemic workarounds.... The rollbacks come amid a longer and larger debate over states' authority around medical licensing that the pandemic -- with its widespread adoption of telehealth services -- has put front and center."  MORE >>

Kaiser Health News


A Framework for Categorizing and Analyzing Prescription Drug Pricing Reform Options

"[P]olicymakers should think about reform options as fitting within three sets of categories: [1] those focusing on patients' out-of-pocket costs; [2] those targeting problematic incentives for various stakeholders within the system; and [3] those addressing the high prices of particular drugs."  MORE >>

The Brookings Institution

Benefits in General

[Official Guidance]

IRS Provides Tax Relief to Victims of Hurricane Ida

"Victims of Hurricane Ida that began on August 26 now have until January 3, 2022, to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments ... The IRS is offering this relief to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as qualifying for individual or public assistance. Currently this includes the entire state of Louisiana, but taxpayers in Ida-impacted localities designated by FEMA in neighboring states will automatically receive the same filing and payment relief." [IR-2021-175]  MORE >>

Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

Employee Benefits Jobs

View job as 3(16) Account Manager
for Ubiquity Retirement + Savings 3(16) Account Manager

Ubiquity Retirement + Savings

Remote / San Francisco CA / AZ / CO / FL / IL / KY / LA / MA / MO / MS / NC / NJ / NV / NY / OH / OR / RI / SC / TN / TX / WA

View job as 3(16) Account Manager
for Ubiquity Retirement + Savings

View job as Plan Administrator/ Consulting
for Associated Pension Consultants Plan Administrator/ Consulting

Associated Pension Consultants

Chico CA / Sacramento CA

View job as Independent Enrolled Actuary
for Pension Consulting Actuary Independent Enrolled Actuary

Pension Consulting Actuary

Remote / Palm Beach Gardens FL / CA / NY

Selected New Discussions

COBRA Coverage While Enrolled in Medicare

"Let's say an executive is currently employed and on his employer's group health plan. The executive is being terminated in connection with an M&A transaction but will become a consultant to the company for six months as an independent contractor. As part of the termination, the employer has offered to pay for COBRA coverage for him and his dependents for six months. The executive is already eligible for Medicare. Assuming he is not enrolled in Medicare, he's still eligible for the COBRA coverage, correct? He would lose COBRA coverage if, after the COBRA coverage becomes effective, he then enrolls in Medicare. Correct?"

BenefitsLink Message Boards

Press Releases

LIMRA Further Enhances Its Data Exchange Standards to Include Leave Management and Employee Assistance Programs


Leading Employee Benefits Lawyer Anthony Provenzano Joins Crowell & Moring

Crowell & Moring LLP

Webcasts and Conferences
(Health & Welfare Plans)

Statutory Paid Leaves – What You Need to Know for 2022

November 18, 2021 WEBCAST

Disability Management Employer Coalition [DMEC]

Last Issue's Most Popular Items

Vaccination Incentives as Wellness Programs: Providing Incentives for Getting Back to Business

Jackson Walker

Evolving Issues for Employers Related to Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccines and Mask Requirements in the Workplace (PDF)


PCORI Deadline Just Passed; What Happens If You Missed It?


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

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