Archives: Employee Health & Welfare Plans

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Incentives: From Water Bottles to “Not so Substantial”

For years (and we do mean years), the EEOC has waffled about whether incentives were permissible in connection with a medical inquiry under a voluntary wellness program.  Friday, the EEOC issued its most recent pronouncement on the topic, this time related to incentives for COVID-19 vaccinations. The ADA prohibits employers from requiring medical examinations or … Continue Reading

IRS Provides Clarity on ARPA COBRA Subsidy Impact on State “Mini-COBRA” Plans

In our most recent summary of IRS Notice 2021-31, we noted the Internal Revenue Service provided much-needed clarity to looming compliance challenges as employers, insurers, and others race to implement the applicable COBRA premium subsidy provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA).  While there are many other important clarifications made by the … Continue Reading

Washington Steps Up Insurance Protections for Gender Affirming Treatments

As some states make headlines for so-called “anti-trans” laws, the Washington state legislature rejected a bill designed to limit youth participation in sports based on their gender as assigned on a birth certificate and passed the new Gender Affirming Treatment Act.  This Act prohibits health insurers from denying or limiting coverage for gender affirming treatment … Continue Reading

IRS Answers to Your American Rescue Plan Act COBRA Subsidy Questions

In much-anticipated guidance, the Internal Revenue Service has offered its insight on the implementation of the COBRA temporary premium subsidy provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) in Notice 2021-31. Spanning more than 40 pages, the IRS-answered frequently asked questions (FAQs) finally resolve many issues relating to temporary premium assistance for COBRA continuation coverage left … Continue Reading

Remote Employees: The Geographic Tax and Benefits Challenges

As the COVID-19 vaccine has become readily available, and many employers contemplate employees returning to the office to work, both employers and employees have accelerated demands for new and permanent remote work location arrangements for a variety of jobs. Employers across the country are revisiting their business strategies, employment policies, and related legal and tax … Continue Reading

Mental Health Parity Compliance Returns to Forefront for Group Health Plan Sponsors

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA) amended the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) to include substantial new compliance requirements. The Department of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services, and the Treasury (collectively, the Departments) have released much-anticipated guidance for group health plans necessitating action from plan sponsors.  More…… Continue Reading

COVID-19 Vaccination: Setting Up An On-site Program

The Biden administration reportedly has called for all people at least 18 to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by April 19, 2021, two weeks earlier than its prior goal of May 1, and less than a week away. Most states have already done so. Without the barriers created by state-by-state priority rules, the rate … Continue Reading

Lawmakers Seek Clarity on EEOC Regulations Concerning Incentives for COVID-19 Vaccinations

Providing incentives for employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be on the minds of organizations as vaccinations pick up speed. However, concerns about privacy and the shifting positions on wellness program regulation has left many employers wary about implementing more robust incentives. According to Bloomberg, two GOP members of Congress are urging the … Continue Reading

Happy National Employee Benefits Day, April 6, 2021!

You didn’t know it was a thing?  Or maybe, like most, you just lost track of what day it is?  Or maybe it ranks somewhere behind New Beer’s Eve (the day before the end of prohibition) and National Tartan Day, both of which are most certainly things and also fall on April 6th. If there … Continue Reading

American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: COBRA Subsidy, Pension Funding, and Other Employee Benefit Changes

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) is the latest federal COVID-19 relief bill, which the President signed into law on Thursday, March 11, 2021. ARPA includes new COBRA continuation coverage election, notice, and subsidy requirements; pension plan funding relief; and some cost-saving benefit opportunities employees may be able to leverage.  Some of these … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Deadline Extensions—No More Time Outs but No Single Deadline Either!!

We recently provided an update on the looming end date for COBRA and other deadline extensions and the uncertainty that continues to add to the administrative burdens without more clarity from the DOL and IRS.  Message received, apparently. On behalf of the IRS, the DOL has now released Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 that attempts to … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Deadline Extensions—Still Relevant to Plan Sponsors?

In May of 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released joint-agency guidance that extended several important deadlines for employees, including COBRA election and payment deadlines, HIPAA Special Enrollment deadlines, and claims submission and appeal deadlines.  Under the guidance, plan administrators were required to extend the deadlines that would otherwise apply … Continue Reading

Wellness Programs and Water Bottles, the EEOC Proposes New Rules under the ADA and GINA

Since 1996, when Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), employers have been struggling with whether and to what extent they could offer incentives to employees to participate in certain “wellness programs.” The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) position on these programs has been a significant driver of those struggles, primarily due … Continue Reading

New Model COBRA Notices and Emergency Extensions to COBRA Deadlines Require Employers to Take Action

The Department of Labor (DOL) and other federal regulators released updates and clarifications related to employee benefits, including updates to model COBRA notices and an extension of certain statutory deadlines intended to minimize the possibility of participants and beneficiaries losing benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. This article highlights the DOL’s recent changes and updates relating … Continue Reading

IRS Extends the Form 5500 Due Dates for Some Employee Benefit Plans

The Internal Revenue Service has broadened the filing and payment relief provided under prior guidance. IRS Notice 2020-23 postpones, among other relief, the due date for employee benefit plans required to make the Form 5500 series filings due on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020.  Plans with original due dates or … Continue Reading

Health Plan Sponsors – Have You Updated Your Vendor Agreements for Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Confidentiality Regulations?

Employers that sponsor group health plans (medical, dental, vision, HFSA) are used to negotiating detailed administrative services agreements with vendors that provide services to those plans. Many also are familiar with “business associate agreements” required under HIPAA that must be in place with certain vendors, such as third-party claims administrators (TPAs), wellness program vendors, benefits … Continue Reading

Employers in Union-Related Group Health Plans Must Still Comply with ACA Reporting Requirements

Employers who provide health benefits to their union workforce through a multiemployer group health plan must satisfy all the Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting requirements regarding their union employees… More… Continue Reading

DOL Proposed NEW Electronic Disclosures Rule

Employers frustrated with the cumbersome rules and added expenses for furnishing plan documents, summary plan descriptions, notices, and certain other communications may soon get some added relief, at least with respect to their retirement plans. In response to President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order 13847, Strengthening Retirement Security in America, the U.S. Department of Labor … Continue Reading

North Carolina Court Awards $41 Thousand-Plus Penalty for Failure to Produce Documents Requested by Plan Participants

Section 104(b)(4) of ERISA provides that a plan administrator must respond to a written request for certain documents (including the plan documents and summary plan description) by a participant or beneficiary by providing the requested documents.  Section 502(c)(1) of ERISA and Regulation § 2575.502(c)-1 provide that a plan administrator who fails to do so within … Continue Reading

Don’t Overlook Your Employee Benefit Plans as You Evaluate the Effect of the Final Overtime Rule

Before employers implement their proposed workforce changes resulting from the finalization of the new overtime rule, released September 24, 2019, see our article for more information, employers should consider what impact those proposed workforce changes may have on their employee benefit plans. Employee benefit plans with criteria for eligibility, contribution, etc. based on the classification … Continue Reading
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