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IRS Provides Additional COVID-19 Relief for Cafeteria Plans

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).

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American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Key Healthcare Provisions

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.

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For more information, please contact Meg Gilley, Mara McDermott, Kristen O’Brien, Katie Waldo, Rodney Whitlock or Eric Zimmerman.




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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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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COVID-19 Stimulus Package Significantly Expands CARES Act Employee Retention Tax Credits

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.

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IRS Reasserts That Forgivable PPP Expenses Are Not Deductible, but Is Legislative Relief on the Way?

Loans under the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) are eligible for forgiveness depending upon whether and when the loan proceeds are used for qualified business expenses. Congress provided that the forgiveness of PPP loans are not includible in income. However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) currently takes the position that expenses funded by PPP loans are not deductible. On December 14, US lawmakers unveiled a draft of the Bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief Act of 2020, which includes a provision allowing deductions for PPP expenses that result in PPP loan forgiveness.

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More Caring: New CARES Act Guidance for Retirement and Nonqualified Plans

New Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance expands the availability of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) distributions and loans under eligible retirement plans, and it provides important clarifications regarding how to administer and report CARES Act distributions and loans. The guidance also provides welcome relief for a participant who receives a CARES Act distribution, allowing the participant to revoke an otherwise irrevocable salary deferral election under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan. Finally, consistent with prior guidance, the new IRS guidance confirms that CARES Act provisions are optional, meaning that plan sponsors may choose whether to implement CARES Act changes.

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COVID-19: FAQs on Employees Experiencing Symptoms and Employee Absences

With rapid developments in local, state and federal guidance and law, the appropriate approach for each employer in relation to COVID-19 will vary depending on the nature of their work, the industries served and their location and size, among other considerations. This article outlines what employers need to know about employees experiencing symptoms and employee absences.

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