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American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Employment Law Update

US President Joe Biden signed into law the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) on March 11, 2021. ARPA follows from weeks of negotiations in Congress and attempts to facilitate the country’s recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Included in ARPA are several provisions that impact employers, including provisions on paid leave, reduced hours and employee retention credits. Employers should be mindful of the employment-specific changes put into effect by ARPA and accordingly update their policies and practices to comply with these changes.

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DOL Issues Clarification for ERISA-Governed Group Health Plans

Two days before the one-year anniversary of the official start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the US Department of Labor (DOL) issued a last-minute notice clarifying its prior guidance that relaxed the deadlines for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act-governed group health and welfare plans (ERISA) related to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and various special enrollment and claims procedures.

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Health Plan Sponsor Assessed Attorneys’ Fees for Pursuing Meritless ERISA Claims against Plan Administrators

The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld an award of attorneys’ fees payable by a health plan sponsor to the plan administrators that the plan sponsor had sued. The plan sponsor aggressively pursued meritless Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) claims.

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IRS Delivers COVID-19 Surprise to Workers: A Chance to Redo Their 2021 Health Plan and FSA Choices

Wish you could change your health plan for 2021? In newly released guidance on new flexible rules for healthcare and dependent care Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has included a new COVID-19-relief surprise: Employers can allow employees to make changes prospectively to health care coverage for 2021.

In a recent article in Forbes, McDermott partner Jacob Mattinson explains what the new IRS guidance means for both employers and employees.

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Making Sure It Hurts: 2021 Increased Penalties for ERISA Violations

The Department of Labor (DOL) made inflation adjustments to a wide range of penalties for Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) violations by employee benefit plans and plan sponsors. The new penalty amounts that apply in 2021 are included herein.

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Senate Rules Could Pose Hurdles for Vaccine Funds

Progressive Democrats in the US Senate are hoping to use a streamlined process that needs just 50 votes to approve a COVID-19 relief package that includes billions in new funding for vaccines and other supplies. But some experts are already casting doubt on that plan.

STAT spoke with nine current and former congressional staffers and budgetary experts, including McDermottPlus consultant Rodney Whitlock, on the possibility of public health funds receiving approval through the budget reconciliation process.

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Transformative Healthcare Collaboration Opportunities Emerge from COVID-19 Pandemic

The seismic, virtually overnight transformation of healthcare delivery as a result of the pandemic has flung open doors to innovation, as a diverse cross-section of digital health and life sciences stakeholders mobilize crisis resources; adjust operations for enhanced screening, sanitization and social distancing measures; harness telehealth capabilities to deliver healthcare remotely; and identify opportunities for smarter, better healthcare going forward.

Writing for The US-Israel Legal Review, partners from McDermott’s Health practice highlight the challenges and opportunities that digital health and life sciences operators and investors should consider as the industry charts a course through the post-pandemic changed healthcare landscape.

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Top 10 Issues in Health Law 2021

A new president always brings new policy priorities and objectives, particularly when that president is from a different political party than their predecessor. As we begin 2021, and usher in the Biden era, we should likewise expect a significant shift in the health policy agenda.

Writing for the American Health Law Association’s Top 10 Issues in Health Law 2021, McDermott partner Eric Zimmerman discusses the top health policy priorities to watch for from the new administration.

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What’s Expected in Employment Law in 2021?

Last year ended as an unprecedented and historic year, with far-reaching effects across diversity, equity and inclusion, employment practices and workplace standards. In a recent article for International Law Office, partners from McDermott’s Employment group highlight what changes are expected in 2021 and how these may affect employers and employees.

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3 Benefits Takeaways from New Surprise Medical Billing Law

The No Surprises Act, which was tucked into the year-end spending bill, protects patients from getting slapped with surprise bills after visits to the emergency room or their regular medical providers, leaving any payment disputes up to their plan and provider to resolve.

A recent article in Law360 covers three key takeaways from the legislation that employers should know, with McDermott partner Judith Wethall weighing in.

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