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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).

Access the article.




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.

Access the summary.

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




COVID-19 Relief Bill Offers COBRA Reform and Temporarily Increases DCAP Maximum

On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) providing Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) reform provisions and an increase in Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) maximum deferrals. While details from the agencies are forthcoming, here is an overview of these provisions of the ARPA.

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Free Health Insurance! 100% COBRA Subsidy in COVID Stimulus Package: Questions & Answers

The 100% Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) subsidy in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) means that more than two million laid off Americans will have the option to extend their workplace healthcare insurance for free—temporarily.

In a recent article for Forbes, McDermott partner Judith Wethall outlines what the COBRA subsidy potentially means for employers.

Access the article.




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.

Access the article.




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.

Access the article.




Be Sure to Change Furloughs into Layoffs Lawfully

Employers that are converting furloughs into permanent layoffs need to ensure compliance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act and with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).

In a recent article by the Society for Human Resource Management, McDermott partner Carole Spink explains why employers should carefully consider both state and federal regulations—and the importance of clear communication—when converting furloughs into layoffs.

Access the article.




DOL Relaxes Deadlines for ERISA-Governed Group Health Plans

The US Department of Labor, in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Service and US Department of the Treasury, issued guidance and deadline extensions applicable to ERISA-governed group health and welfare plans. The guidance provides relief for plan sponsors, plan administrators and plan participants that may be struggling to comply with applicable deadlines and requirements in the midst of the chaos related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Access the full article.




Fla. Class Actions Show Why Correct COBRA Notices Matter

In Florida’s federal courts, there has been an epidemic of class actions alleging that employers failed to provide technically proper notice of the right to continued healthcare coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. A dozen such lawsuits have been filed (each by the same law firm) with mirror image allegations.

These cases illustrate why it is necessary to sweat the details in issuing COBRA notices, which McDermott’s Megan Mardy and Julie McConnell walk through in a recent analysis for Law360.

Access the full article.

Originally published by Law360, October 2019




Worker Classification: Complications Beyond the Front Page

When California’s Dynamex decision rolled out the “ABC test”, it placed the burden on the employer to prove independent contractor (IC) status. In a presentation at the Employment and Employee Benefits Forum in California, McDermott’s lawyers discussed the implications of Dynamex, as it applies to various types of employers as well as those using staffing companies. Additionally, they cover Dynamex’s impact on worker classification and employee benefits plans, particularly under ERISA.

Lastly, they provide best practices that employers can do now to prevent litigation.

View the full presentation.




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