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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

November 4, 2021

4 New Job Opportunities 4 New Job Opportunities


[Official Guidance]

Text of OSHA Interim Final Rule and Comment Request: COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing; Emergency Temporary Standard

490 pages. "Covered employers must develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, with an exception for employers that instead adopt a policy requiring employees to either get vaccinated or elect to undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work in lieu of vaccination....

"This [Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS)] applies to employers with a total of 100 or more employees at any time the standard is in effect.... OSHA is confident that employers with 100 or more employees have the administrative capacity to implement the standard's requirements promptly, but is less confident that smaller employers can do so without undue disruption. OSHA needs additional time to assess the capacity of smaller employers, and is seeking comment to help the agency make that determination....

"OSHA seeks comments on the following topics: [1] Employers with fewer than 100 employees.... [2] Significant Risk.... [3] Prior COVID-19 infections.... [4] Experience with COVID-19 vaccination policies.... [5] COVID-19 testing and removal.... [6] Face coverings.... [7] Other controls. This ETS requires employees to either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly and wear face coverings, based on the type of policy their employer adopts. It stops short of requiring the full suite of workplace controls against SARS-CoV-2 transmission recommended by OSHA and the CDC, including distancing, barriers, ventilation, and sanitation.... [8] Educational materials.... [9] Feasibility and health impacts."

[Also available: [1] Press Release, [2] Summary, [3] Fact Sheet, and [4] FAQs.]  MORE >>

Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

[Guidance Overview]

DOL Issues Emergency Temporary Standard to Protect Workers from Coronavirus

"Under [this emergency temporary standard (ETS)], covered employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose to either be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work.... The ETS is effective immediately upon its publication in the Federal Register. Employers must comply with most requirements within 30 days of publication and with testing requirements within 60 days of publication." [Federal Register publication is scheduled for Nov. 5, 2021. Also available: [1] Summary, [2] Fact Sheet, and [3] FAQs.]  MORE >>

Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OHSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

[Guidance Overview]

State, Federal, and Private Enforcement of Mental Health Parity Compliance

"The DOL, state insurance regulators, state attorneys general, and private parties have an array of tools to probe a plan's compliance with MHPAEA. ERISA's disclosure obligations require health plans to provide their comparative analysis demonstrating MHPAEA compliance ... The CAA further broadened disclosure and access requirements for plan beneficiaries ... And the price transparency rules will give yet another tool for providers, beneficiaries, and regulators to evaluate reimbursement rates for potential parity compliance."  MORE >>

Sheppard Mullin

[Guidance Overview]

California Expands Health Insurance Mandates, Modifies Leave Laws

"Along with expanding required coverage for large groups, new laws require coverage of COVID-19 testing and vaccines without cost sharing, add dependent coverage for parents, and mandate screening children for adverse physical or emotional experiences. Lawmakers also postponed changes to the state's paid family and disability leave programs and broadened unpaid leave protections for caregivers. Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) anti-steering law."  MORE >>


[Guidance Overview]

District of Columbia Amends, Extends Paid Family and Medical Leave

"For leaves that start on or after Sept. 26, 2021, changes to Washington, DC's Universal Paid Leave (UPL) law add two weeks of paid prenatal leave to the paid family and medical leave (PFML) program. Other amendments increase the maximum duration of medical leave from two to six weeks and allow its use for miscarriage or stillbirth."  MORE >>


Administration's Vaccine Rules Mean Millions of Workers Must Get Shots by Jan. 4 or Undergo Weekly Testing

"Companies subject to the rules must ensure that employees who aren't vaccinated against COVID-19 produce a negative test at least weekly and wear a mask in the workplace. Employers aren't required under the new policy to provide or pay for tests, with potential exceptions if collective bargaining agreements compel them to do so."  MORE >>

The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required

District Court Finds the 'Trout in the Milk'

"This case involved a major bank firing one of its highly compensated employees for pretextual reasons and an insurance company's choice to take that decision on face value to avoid paying [long-term disability] benefits. Almost ten years of litigation followed against the insurer and the bank, culminating in this ruling, which slammed the insurer for its 'indolence,' found in favor of the claimant, and cited Henry David Thoreau all at the same time." [Host v. First Unum Life Ins. Co., No. 18-11504 (D. Mass. Oct. 28, 2021)]  MORE >>

Kantor & Kantor

Nearly 45% of Americans Consider Health Insurance Changes

"4 in 10 insured Americans say their out-of-pocket health care costs were too high in the last year, and nearly 1 in 5 say they can't afford their deductible.... 45% of insured Americans believe those who aren't vaccinated for COVID-19 should pay higher health insurance premiums than those who are vaccinated.... Premium costs are the most important factor Americans consider when selecting a health insurance plan, at 24%."  MORE >>

HSA Holders Spending More Than Saving

"The majority of health savings account (HSA) holders are using their accounts to focus on yearly and expected tax-advantaged health care spending ... And these account holders are spending the money in their HSAs nearly as fast as they contribute to them.... [I]ndividual accounts had higher balances, in both cash and investments, than employer-sponsored accounts."  MORE >>

PLANSPONSOR; free registration may be required

New Health Plans Offer Twists on Existing Options, with a Dose of 'Buyer Beware'

"While they're still niche products, these nontraditional options say they aim to soothe consumer frustration with high premiums and deductibles by harnessing the growing availability of price information or patients' newfound comfort with online health services."  MORE >>

Kaiser Health News

How Creative Companies Are Using Corporate Wellness as a Recruiting Tool

"Unique wellness benefits are leading the way ... Definitions of wellness are evolving ... Wellness can now happen anywhere ... Concierge-level personal attention ... Convenience and flexibility matter more than ever ... The future of corporate fitness."  MORE >>

HR Daily Advisor


Has Federal Paid Leave Been Resurrected from the Dead?

"Catching every one of us off guard yesterday afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi inserted paid leave back into the House version of President Biden's 'Build Back Better' infrastructure package.... Her pitch for paid leave faces near certain rejection in the Senate ... What does the latest House version include?"  MORE >>

FMLA Insights

Employee Benefits Jobs

View job as Saver Success Specialist
for Ubiquity Retirement + Savings Saver Success Specialist

Ubiquity Retirement + Savings


View job as Saver Success Specialist
for Ubiquity Retirement + Savings

View job as Client Success Specialist
for Ubiquity Retirement + Savings Client Success Specialist

Ubiquity Retirement + Savings


View job as Client Success Specialist
for Ubiquity Retirement + Savings

View job as Supervisory Legal Administrative Specialist - DE
for Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC] Supervisory Legal Administrative Specialist - DE

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC]

Remote / Washington DC

View job as Implementation Manager
for Micruity Implementation Manager



Press Releases

Wellbeats Rolls Out Inclusive Fitness Content Designed to Encourage Physical Activity and Creativity for Kids


Ascensus and Newport Group to Combine and Create a Leading Provider in Tax-Advantaged Savings


Manatt Health Introduces the No Surprises Act Toolkit


Groom Recognized in the U.S. News – Best Lawyers 'Best Law Firms' 2022 List

Groom Law Group

Webcasts and Conferences
(Health & Welfare Plans)

Advanced ERISA Litigation Seminar 2021

November 9, 2021 WEBCAST

American Bar Association Joint Committee on Employee Benefits [JCEB]

OSHA Issues COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard

November 9, 2021 WEBCAST

Ogletree Deakins

DOL Investigations of Employee Benefit Plans: Responding to Enforcement Actions, Audits, and Settlements

November 10, 2021 WEBCAST


COVID-19 Vaccination Mandates & Incentives: Applicable Rules and Emerging Litigation

November 12, 2021 WEBCAST

American Bar Association Joint Committee on Employee Benefits [JCEB]

Financial Reporting in Healthcare

December 15, 2021 WEBCAST

Conference of Consulting Actuaries

Last Issue's Most Popular Items

Upcoming Compliance Deadlines for Health and Welfare Plans

Ballard Spahr LLP

Health Plan Investigations: The ACA's 'Prudent Layperson' Standard

Groom Law Group

Unvaccinated? Don't Count on Leaving Your Family Death Benefits

Kaiser Health News

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

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