On February 18, 2021, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued clarifying guidance on the temporary special rules for health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) and dependent care assistance programs (DCAPs). This provides welcome guidance regarding the application of cafeteria plan relief provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA).
On March 10, 2021, US Congress finalized and passed the American Rescue Plan of 2021 (ARPA), the latest COVID-19 relief package that largely tracks President Joe Biden’s initial $1.9 trillion proposal. The ARPA extends unemployment insurance benefits and provides direct $1,400 stimulus payments to qualifying Americans, but it also makes several important health policy-related changes. These include providing funding for vaccine distribution and testing to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, making policy adjustments to the Medicaid program, facilitating health insurance coverage and providing more money for healthcare providers. The final bill also makes two narrowly focused technical Medicare payment changes.
This summary highlights notable health policy provisions of the final bill.
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.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which became law on December 27, 2020, makes significant changes to the employee retention tax credits available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act). The changes are generally designed to increase the availability, scope and amount of the credits. Significantly, employers that received a Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan (or that were related to employers that received a PPP loan) may be able to claim the credit, including retroactively for periods beginning as early as March 13, 2020.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act (the Act) was signed into law by the president on December 27, 2020, and includes significant health and welfare benefits provisions that affect group health plans and health insurance issuers. The Act is the most comprehensive single piece of legislation to impact group health plans since the Affordable Care Act.