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.

The IRS issued guidance on March 11 that clears the way for employers to offer employees covered by a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) testing and treatment for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) with no deductible or at a lower deductible.

Under current law, a plan cannot be an HDHP unless it has a minimum deductible of $1,400 for self-only coverage and $2,800 for family coverage (in 2020). Employees must satisfy the applicable deductible before the plan pays any benefits.

Since the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) was first detected in December, the death toll has continued to rise as the virus quickly spreads. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) officials have stated that while the immediate risk of the virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time, US employers should more closely consider employee safety and ways to address disease prevention in the workplace.

We recently published a LawFlash that addresses employment law considerations surrounding these concerns. Here we take a closer look at privacy issues facing employers that provide self-funded or self-administered health benefits to their employees and therefore must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) privacy rule.

On December 20, 2019, President Donald Trump signed into law the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (Act). After years of delayed effective dates, the Act finally repeals the 40% excise tax on high-cost health coverage, often referred to as the “Cadillac tax.” Furthermore, the Act extends the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fee scheduled to originally sunset at the end of 2019.