Better Late Than Never: IRS Issues Guidance Clarifying COBRA Premium Subsidy Rules

S&W Insight: The IRS clarified several trailing issues with respect to COBRA premium subsidies under the American Rescue Plan Act, including extended election periods, eligibility for other coverage, and rules about allocating premium credits among employers. In addition, a notice deadline is on the horizon.

Many employers have been grappling with the ramifications of the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) since it was enacted earlier this year. Among other provisions, ARPA provided a temporary subsidy for certain insurance premiums under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (“COBRA”).

We previously summarized this relief in the following SW Benefits Updates: “Help Is on the Way – Important Changes to COBRA under the American Rescue Plan Act,” “DOL Clarifies Key Provisions, Issues Model Notices for COBRA Relief under ARPA,” and “Ironing Out the Wrinkles – IRS Answers 86 Questions about COBRA Relief under the American Rescue Plan Act. Read More ›

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Not All Surprises Are Good – Phase I of the Surprise Billing Rules

On July 1, 2021, the Office of Personnel Management, Department of the Treasury, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Labor issued the interim final rule “Requirements Related to Surprise Billing; Part I” (the “IFR”), which is the first phase of regulations implementing the No Surprises Act. The No Surprises Act provides certain protections against surprise medical bills and was signed into law on December 27, 2020 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.

The No Surprises Act and the IFR do not completely eliminate surprise billing, but they provide relief from some of the more common scenarios when an individual may experience high and unexpected medical costs. Read More ›

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Subsidized COBRA Elections under ARPA Override COBRA Election Deadline Extensions

As detailed in our SW Benefits Update, Ironing Out the Wrinkles – IRS Answers 86 Questions About COBRA Relief Under the American Rescue Plan Act,” the IRS recently released Notice 2021-31 (the “Notice”), providing welcome guidance on the COBRA election and subsidy requirements under the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”).  As mentioned in that SW Benefits Update, the Notice included some unexpected guidance regarding the impact of ARPA COBRA elections on the COBRA election deadline extensions under the Joint Notice and EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 (the “Disaster Relief”).

In part, the Notice provides that an individual who elects subsidized COBRA coverage under ARPA, effective April 1, 2021, must also elect or decline COBRA coverage retroactive to their loss of coverage before April 1, 2021 (if applicable).   Read More ›

Posted in Employee Benefits, Health & Welfare Plans

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In Case You Missed It – Key 2021 Employee Benefits Topics

This year is off to a fast start and plan sponsors might find their heads spinning as they try to keep track of rapidly developing employee benefits legislation and guidance.  We periodically consolidate key newsletters and blog posts to help our readers stay organized and catch up on items they might have missed.  Below, please find links to several SW Benefits Updates and blog posts covering developments in the employee benefits realm.  As always, you can access our entire catalogue of employee benefits blog posts here on the Snell & Wilmer L.L.P. website.  You can also view all of our SW Benefits Updates here, and our COVID-19-specific SW Benefit Updates here. Read More ›

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Credit Where Credit Is Due: IRS Offers Long-Sought Guidance on Employer Retention Credit Program

As we previously reported, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) provided for an employee retention credit (“ERC”) designed to encourage employers to retain workers during the COVID-19 crisis.  In general, the ERC permits eligible employers to claim a refundable tax credit of a portion of qualified wages paid to employees over a given period.

Initially, the IRS issued guidance on ERCs in the form of online Frequently Asked Questions (the “FAQs”).  The FAQs were non-binding and subject to change.  As of March 1, 2021, the IRS published formal rules with respect to ERCs in Notice 2021-20 (the “Notice”).  Read More ›

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Wellness Program Incentives – New Year, New EEOC Proposed Rules

For years we have been trying to understand how the EEOC regulates wellness programs. Although we still do not have a complete picture, we are getting closer with the EEOC’s new Notices of Proposed Rulemaking on wellness programs under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”). This blog summarizes the status of the ADA wellness program rules and the changes under the recently released proposed ADA wellness program rules.

Title I of the ADA

Title I of the ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals on the basis of disability in regard to employment compensation and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment, including “fringe benefits available by virtue of employment, whether or not administered by the covered entity.” Read More ›

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Get Ready, Get Set, to Cover COVID-19 Vaccines for Free

Last month, we reported that Moderna was seeking FDA authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine and reminded readers about the immunization coverage requirements in Section 3202 of the CARES Act in our SW Benefits Blog, “Free COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Update.”  As of the date of this blog, the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines have been approved and group health plans must act quickly to meet the requirements of the CARES Act.

On October 28, 2020, HHS, DOL, and the Treasury issued interim final rules (the “new regulations”) about the COVID-19 immunization coverage requirements.  The new regulations generally took effect November 2, 2020 and are effective until the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency declared by HHS.  Read More ›

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Free COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Update

On November 30, Moderna announced that it is seeking FDA authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine.  In addition, on November 17 the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the first COVID-19 diagnostic test for self-testing at home.  With these recent developments, a COVID-19 update for health and welfare plans might be helpful.

  • Free COVID-19 Vaccines – As reported in our April 1, 2020 SW Benefits Update: “The CARES Act – What Are the Health and Welfare Plan Issues to Consider?,” Section 3203 of the CARES Act requires group health plans and health insurance issuers to cover without cost-sharing any “qualifying coronavirus preventive service,” which includes an item, service, or vaccine that is intended to prevent or mitigate coronavirus that is:  (1) an evidence-based item or service with an A or B rating recommended by the U.S.
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‘Tis the Season: Four Year-End Employee Benefit Plan Checklists

Each year, we publish health and welfare, cost-of-living, executive compensation, and qualified retirement plan checklists to help individuals and employers stay apprised of updates to the law of employee benefits.  We recently published the last of these annual checklists.  In case you missed them, the links are below.

Happy holidays!

2020 End of Year Plan Sponsor “To Do” List (Part 1) Health & Welfare

2020 End of Year Plan Sponsor “To Do” List (Part 2) Annual Cost of Living Adjustments

2020 End of Year Plan Sponsor “To Do” List (Part 3) Executive Compensation

2020 End of Year Plan Sponsor “To Do” List (Part 4) Qualified Retirement Plans 

  Read More ›

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Finally, Some Good News: IRS Extends Certain ACA Reporting Deadlines and Transition Relief

As in prior years, the IRS has provided relief for employers preparing to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s (“ACA”) information reporting requirements in early 2021 for the 2020 calendar year. In particular, Notice 2020-76 (the “Notice”) extends the deadline to furnish Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to employees. The new deadlines are provided, below.

Original Deadline Extended Deadline
Form 1095-B (to employees) January 31, 2021 March 2, 2021
Form 1095-C (to employees) January 31, 2021 March 2, 2021

Importantly, the Notice does not extend the deadline for filing Forms with the IRS.  Instead, the deadline to file with the IRS remains February 28, 2021 (for paper filings) and March 31, 2021 (for electronic filings). Read More ›

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