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Amid the current climate of individuals engaging in protests for racial justice and other causes, some employers are looking for ways to help employees arrested in connection with exercising their first amendment rights to speech and assembly. One way to do so is an ERISA plan for prepaid legal services.

Recent LawFlash publications include:

  • IRS Releases New Guidance for Distributions and Loans from Retirement Plans under Cares Act. The Internal Revenue Service recently published additional guidance on the coronavirus-related distributions and loans provisions of Section 2202 of the CARES Act. Notice 2020-50 is intended to assist employers and plan administrators, trustees and custodians, and qualified individuals in applying Section 2202 to take advantage of greater access to plan distributions and plan loans. Read more in our LawFlash.
  • Recent Developments in ERISA Plan Investment Regulation. The US Department of Labor has issued guidance on private equity in 401(k) plan designated investment alternatives and a proposed regulation on environmental, social, and governance investing. Read our LawFlash for an analysis.
  • COVID-19: Two New Stops on the Roadmap to Relief For IRA Owners and Providers. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released new guidance in IRS Notice 2020-50 and Notice 2020-51 to help owners and beneficiaries of individual retirement accounts and individual retirement annuities (IRAs) and IRA providers navigate the relief provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Read our LawFlash to learn more.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force

For our clients, we have formed a multidisciplinary Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force to help guide you through the broad scope of legal issues brought on by this public health challenge. Find resources on how to cope with the post-pandemic reality on our NOW. NORMAL. NEXT. page and our COVID-19 page to help keep you on top of developments as they unfold. If you would like to receive a daily digest of all new updates to the page, please subscribe now to receive our COVID-19 alerts, and download our biweekly COVID-19 Legal Issue Compendium.

The US Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury (Departments) issued a set of 14 frequently asked questions (FAQs) on April 11. The FAQs are intended to offer guidance on the application and implementation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), and other health coverage issues related to the coronavirus (COVID-19). The FAQs generally are applicable for the duration of the public health emergency associated with COVID-19 (which will end no earlier than June 16, 2020).

The Coronavirus Air, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law on March 27 includes an allocation of $200 million to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to support telehealth services and $125 million to the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service to expand its existing distance learning, telehealth, and broadband initiative.

Read our LawFlash that includes a summary of these provisions.

Single employer defined benefit plans are required to comply with limitations on accelerated benefits payments, future benefit accruals, and implementation of benefit increases triggered by plan underfunding or plan sponsor bankruptcy. Given the recent market and business disruptions, the following high-level review of these rules may be helpful, especially for plan sponsors of plans that use a non-calendar plan year.

Employers with self-insured health plans may be thinking about making coronavirus (COVID-19)-related changes, such as waiving the patient responsibility portion of the charge for a hospital stay that is related to COVID-19. If there is stop loss insurance, it is important to consider the implications of a plan design change. Many stop loss policies require that the insurer sign off on any design changes to the plan, or exclude payment for treatments or plan costs that are outside of the specifications provided in the policy application. The takeaway is that if you are thinking of making design changes to your self-insured health plan and there is stop loss insurance, it may be important to get advance sign-off from the stop loss insurer, or at least obtain an understanding of the implications if the insurer declines to sign off.

Our employee benefits and executive compensation practice is available to help employers evaluate and troubleshoot potential issues arising from the changing work environment and economic situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance reviews the employee benefits and executive compensation issues that we have been assisting clients with in the last few days.

Please contact the authors or your Morgan Lewis contacts if you have questions related to employee benefits and executive compensation in the midst of coronavirus COVID-19. For updated, comprehensive information about COVID-19, please see our resource page.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Act), signed into law Wednesday, requires group health plans to provide coverage for coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnostic testing, including the cost of healthcare provider visits (as well as telehealth visits), urgent care center visits, and emergency room visits in order to receive testing. Coverage must be provided at no cost-sharing to participants.

This mandate lasts for the duration of the public health emergency declaration period and became effective March 18.

In recent years, reports have indicated robust, and in some respects increasing, enforcement activities by the US Department of Labor (DOL) related to ERISA. The DOL recently issued its enforcement statistics for fiscal year 2019, and they are in line with what the DOL has reported in recent years. For fiscal year 2019, the DOL reported recoveries of $2.5 billion in direct payments to plans. This is a 56.25% increase over the previous year, and affirms that the DOL ERISA enforcement program remains very active and continues to find breaches of ERISA that require restorative payments by plan fiduciaries and others.