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.
The COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged 2020 spurred workers to take advantage of telemedicine and mental health benefits more frequently, and demand for those services isn’t expected to wane in the near future, experts say.
A recent article in Law360 examined three ways the pandemic had an impact on employee benefits over the past year, with McDermott partner Jacob Mattinson weighing in.
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.
A new IRS notice extends the deadline for individuals to make health savings account (HSA) contributions from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. The IRS issued the notice to provide taxpayers with various tax filing and payment deadline extensions in response to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency.
In response to the COVID-19 emergency, the IRS has issued Notice 2020-18, which extends certain tax filing and payment deadlines. All taxpayers with filing or payment deadlines of April 15, 2020 are eligible for relief under the Notice, regardless of whether they are directly impacted by COVID-19 (for example, due to illness or quarantine). The Notice extends the deadline for individuals to make contributions to their health savings accounts from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020.
HSAs allow individuals who are covered under high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) to contribute an amount up to IRS limits ($3,550 for individual coverage and $7,100 for family coverage in 2020), which is used to pay for certain eligible medical expenses on a pre-tax basis. HSA contributions are typically due by the federal income tax filing deadline of April 15. Because that deadline has now been extended to July 15, 2020, the IRS has also extended the deadline to make HSA contributions until the new filing deadline.
Earlier this month, the IRS allowed individuals covered by an HDHP to receive testing and care for COVID-19 without a deductible, or with a deductible below the HDHP minimum, without disqualifying the individual from making or receiving HSA contributions (see our previous On the Subject here).
A federal district court denied class certification to health plan participants who claimed the plan promised them lifetime benefits. The court found too many individualized questions about what the plan told each participant, and the claims could not be resolved on a class-wide basis. Fitzwater, et al. v. Consol Energy, Inc., et al., No. 2:16-cv-09849 and 1:17-cv-03861 (S.D.W.Va., October 15, 2019).
In today’s high-stakes environment, in-house counsel and HR professionals are often on the frontlines, responding to headlines that threaten business and reputational objectives.
Join McDermott Will & Emery’s Employment and Employee Benefits practice groups at a half-day forum in our Chicago office on Oct. 10. This forward-looking program is designed to drive conversation around emerging trends to help employers craft their own narrative, instead of being held captive by it.
Federal Court Certifies Class in Multiple-Plan ERISA Challenge to Health-Plan and Retirement-Plan Fees
A Texas federal court certified a class in case brought by participants in one plan, and allowed those participants to represent participants in unaffiliated plans. The claims alleged that the defendants, who marketed and provided services to all of the plans, breached fiduciary duties by imposing excessive fees. See Chavez, et al. v. Plan Benefits Services, Inc., et al., No. AU-17-CA-00659-SS, United States District Court for Western District of Texas (Aug. 30, 2019).
With the uncertainty of the general election just one year away—and change on the horizon—now is the time to take stock of the legal and regulatory environment to prepare your organization for the future.
On September 10 in Boston, the ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC), Fidelity and McDermott invite you to join your peers and colleagues for breakfast and an interactive discussion at 8 am EDT around hot topics in benefits and compensation. Areas of focus will include:
- Congressional action on healthcare—from Rx costs to surprise billing
- Direct contracting for health plans
- Federal and state paid leave
- Lasting impacts of tax reform
- New leveraged ESPP funding alternative
- Student loan repayment plans
- The SECURE Act and what comes next
The Departments of Labor, Treasury, and Health and Human Services have released final rules removing the prohibition on pairing HRAs with individual health policies. The final rules also allow certain HRAs and other account-based group health plans to qualify as limited excepted benefits. These rules are generally effective for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2020.
The US Supreme Court declined to review a recent Ninth Circuit decision, blocking the interim rules that exempted employers with religious or moral objections from providing birth control coverage required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Until such time as this issue is clarified, it is prudent for employers with employees in certain states to comply with the ACA mandate and to cover contraceptives under their health plans.
Teal Trujillo, a summer associate in our Chicago office, also contributed to this article.