The DOL Issues ARPA COBRA Subsidy Forms

Category: Compliance

The DOL Issues ARPA COBRA Subsidy Forms

Posted On: April 9, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

The DOL Issues ARPA COBRA Subsidy Forms On April 7, 2021, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued the much awaited COBRA Model Notices required under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), implementing the 100% COBRA Subsidy for eligible individuals. In order to assist plan sponsors with implementing the subsidy as required under the ARPA, the DOL has established a dedicated COBRA Subsidy web page. Additionally, FAQs are available here. Model Notices: General Notice and Election Notice Notice in Connection with Extended Election Period Alternative Notice Notice of Expiration of Premium Assistance Summary of the COBRA Premium Assistance Provisions Please review our latest blog on the COBRA Subsidy. If you have any questions, please contact your Innovative account team or contact us at icomply@ibpllc.com.


March 2021 Compliance Recap

Posted On: April 6, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

March 2021 Compliance Recap The employee benefits guidance issued in March 2021 was largely focused on providing relief to individuals and businesses impacted by the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Significantly, on March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the Act) was enacted into law which, in part, mandates that eligible individuals receive a six-month 100% COBRA. The following summarizes other important regulatory developments during March 2021. ACIP Recommends the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) Vaccine On February 28, 2021, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issued an interim recommendation for use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in persons aged 18 or older for the prevention of COVID-19, which must be covered as preventive care no later than March 19, 2021. Under the CARES Act, non-grandfathered individual and employer-sponsored group health plans are required to cover the entire cost of preventative services by not imposing cost-sharing in the…


PPE as Section 213(d) Qualified Medical Expenses

Posted On: March 31, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

PPE as Section 213(d) Qualified Medical Expenses The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Announcement 2021-7 providing that amounts paid for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19, are qualified medical expenses under Internal Revenue Code Section 213(d). Therefore, these expenses are eligible for reimbursement from account-based plans, including health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs), Archer medical savings accounts (Archer MSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), and health savings accounts (HSAs). Note that if the expense is reimbursed under an account-based plan, it is not deductible for the taxpayer under Section 213 (no double benefit). The IRS provides that group health plans, including health FSAs and HRAs, will need to be amended if the plans prohibit reimbursement of PPE. Group health plans may be amended to provide for such reimbursement of PPE expenses incurred for any period…


American Rescue Plan Act Brings Several Health Plan Provisions

Posted On: March 15, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Act). The Act is a $1.9 trillion legislative package that includes pandemic relief for individuals and families. The Act contains several provisions including funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stimulus checks, unemployment benefits, the child tax credit, tax credits for paid sick leave and family and medical leave, the Paycheck Protection Program, grants to state educational agencies, and low-income family assistance. The Act also contains several provisions affecting group health plans. Below is a high-level overview based on Innovative Benefit Planning’s review of the Act but more detailed information on the COBRA relief can be found in a link following the COBRA explanation. COBRA Continuation Coverage Subsidies The Act provides COBRA relief for assistance-eligible individuals. An assistance-eligible individual is an individual who is eligible for COBRA due to a COBRA qualifying event of…


February 2021 Compliance Recap

Posted On: March 8, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

February 2021 Compliance Recap February was a relatively busy month in the employee benefits world. The Department of Labor (DOL) issued EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 regarding the end of the COVID-19 outbreak period. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2021-15 providing guidance on health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs), dependent care flexible spending arrangements (DCAPs), and cafeteria plan relief. The DOL, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) (collectively, the Departments) issued additional FAQs regarding coverage of COVID-19 testing and vaccines. The Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a letter to the U.S. Supreme Court (Supreme Court) regarding its position in the court case challenging the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) withdrew its previously released proposed wellness program rules. The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to a delay…


Final Rule on the Extension of Certain Timeframes For Employee Benefit Plans, Participants, and Beneficiaries Due to COVID-19

Posted On: March 5, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance, Employee Benefits

Final Rule on the Extension of Certain Timeframes For Employee Benefit Plans, Participants, and Beneficiaries Due to COVID-19 The DOL issued EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 providing that the outbreak period relief noted below ends on the earlier of one year from the date an individual or plan was first eligible for relief (extension period) or the original outbreak period of 60 days after the announced end of the COVID-19 National Emergency. As of the date of this writing, the COVID-19 National Emergency has not ended. If a deadline noted below fell on March 1, 2020, it would be extended until February 28, 2021 (one year from March 1, 2020). However, if a deadline fell after March 1, 2020,the deadline would be extended to a date after February 28, 2021 because the extensions up to one year following the deadline or 60 days after the announced end of the COVID-19…


January 2021 Compliance Recap

Posted On: February 11, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

January 2021 Compliance Recap January was a busy month in the employee benefits world. President Biden issued a memorandum putting a regulatory freeze on new rules. President Biden also issued an executive order on strengthening Medicaid and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Department of Labor (DOL) released inflation-adjusted federal civil penalty amounts. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued its parameters for the defined standard Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit for 2022. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released final rules on individual coverage health reimbursement arrangements (ICHRAs). Former President Trump signed an amendment to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) that requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to consider recognized security practices that a covered entity or business associate had in place for purposes of HHS determining penalties and audit outcomes. HHS extended the…


EEOC Releases Proposed Wellness Rules under ADA and GINA

Posted On: January 20, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance, Workplace Wellness

EEOC Releases Proposed Wellness Rules Under ADA and GINA The EEOC recently released proposed language revising the wellness incentive rules under the ADA and GINA. This proposed language is a revision to the rules released in 2016. Below is a summary of the proposed changes and how they may impact wellness programs. Removing the ADA Notice Requirement Currently, employers are required to provide a notice before collecting employee health information. This notice advises employees how their collected health information will be used and disclosed. According to the proposed rules, providing this notice will no longer be necessary. The EEOC states that employers should have these specific policies and procedures in place, however, there is not going to be a guideline that requires them to. Removing the Reasonably Designed Requirement Previously, the requirement stated that any health information collection activity completed by an employee wellness program must be reasonably designed to…


2021 Minimum Wage Increases

Posted On: January 18, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

2021 Minimum Wage Increases As of January 1, 2021, several US states increased their minimum wage rate. Please note, however, that some cities or municipalities may have a minimum wage rate even greater than their statewide rate. Below outlines effective wages for states where the rate will be changing. Alaska: $10.34 Arizona: $12.15 Arkansas: $11.00 California: $14.00 (26 or more employees); $13.00 (Fewer than 26 employees) Colorado: $12.32 Connecticut: $13.00 (effective 8/1/2021) Delaware: $10.25 Florida: $10.00 (effective 9/30/2021) Illinois: $11.00 Maine: $12.15 Maryland: $11.75 (15 or more employees); $11.60 (14 or fewer employees) Massachusetts: $13.50 Michigan: $9.87 Minnesota: $10.08 (Large employers – gross receipts greater than $500,000); $8.21 (Small employers) Missouri: $10.30 Montana: $8.75 Nevada: $8.75 (effective 7/1/2021); $9.75 (for employees not offered health insurance) New Jersey: $12.00; $11.00 (seasonal and fewer than 6 employees) New Mexico: $10.50 New York: $12.50 (effective 12/31/2020) Ohio: $8.80 (Large employers) Oregon: $12.75 (effective…


December Compliance Recap

Posted On: January 13, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

December was a busy month in the employee benefits world. President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which includes the No Surprises Act and other group health plan provisions. The Centers for Disease Control Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issued two interim recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines. The Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) released a final rule on grandfathered health plans. The Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released advance information copies of the 2020 Form 5500 Annual Return / Report (including Form 5500-SF and Form 5500-EZ) and related instructions. DOL released a final rule on proxy voting and shareholders rights under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance on Health Insurance Portability and Protection Act of 1996 (HIPAA) covered entities disclosing protected health information for public health purposes due to COVID-19 and…


Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021: Temporary Health FSA and DCAP Relief

Posted On: January 7, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 Temporary Health FSA and DCAP Relief The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Appropriations Act), enacted on December 27, 2020, contains temporary rules to provide relief for participants in health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) and dependent care flexible spending arrangements (DCAPs) in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Appropriations Act builds on previously issued Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance (IRS Notice 2020-29 and 2020-33), by expanding the opportunities for plan sponsors to amend their plans to give employees additional opportunities to use their currently unused FSA and DCAP balances through 2022. Carry Over of Unused Amounts The Appropriations Act provides that FSAs and DCAPs may permit participants to carry over any unused contributions remaining from the 2020 plan year to the plan year ending in 2021. Additionally, FSAs and DCAPs may permit participants to carry over any unused contributions remaining in the FSA or DCAP from the 2021…


Mandatory Coverage of COVID-19 Vaccines under Group Health Plans

Posted On: December 23, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, Employee Benefits

Mandatory Coverage of COVID-19 Vaccines Under Group Health Plans On December 11, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer vaccine). The following day, December 12, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issued an interim recommendation for use of the Pfizer vaccine in persons age 16 years or older for the prevention of COVID-19. Alternative COVID-19 vaccines are likely to be approved by the FDA under emergency authority in the coming weeks. Group health plans are encouraged to prepare to cover the cost of the Pfizer and other approved COVID-19 vaccines. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), non-grandfathered individual and employer-sponsored group health plans are required to cover the entire cost of preventative services by not imposing cost-sharing in the form of deductibles, copays, coinsurance or other amounts on…


Congress Passes New $1.4 Trillion Stimulus & COVID-19 Relief Bill and Awaits President’s Signature

Posted On: December 23, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

Congress Passes New $1.4 Trillion Stimulus & COVID-19 Relief Bill and Awaits President's Signature Details have emerged on the new $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill which provides a $900 billion COVID-19 Stimulus package. The bill awaits President Trump’s signature and as of last night, he requested that Congress amend the bill to increase the amount of stimulus checks. In the meantime, below highlights many important facets of the bill as it stands now relating to employers and the benefits industry, but as more information becomes available, we will provide subsequential communications. In relation to employee benefits, the bill includes relief for employees participating in Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), a surprise-billing ban, and additional transparency provisions: Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) Employees will be able to rollover unused amounts in their health and dependent care FSAs from 2020 to 2021 and from 2021 to 2022. Employers are also allowed to provide employees…


Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Tentative $2.67 Billion Antitrust Settlement

Posted On: December 16, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Tentative $2.67 Billion Antitrust Settlement  Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) has recently reached a tentative $2.67 billion settlement arising out of a class action lawsuit filed more than eight years ago by subscribers seeking injunctive and compensatory relief arising out of BCBSA’s alleged violation of federal antitrust laws. The settlement will result in the dismissal of the case and a finding of no liability against BCBSA for the subscriber’s claims, which BCBSA continues to reject in their statement regarding the litigation. Alleged Violations The subscribers alleged that BCBSA violated several provisions of the Sherman Antitrust Act, which is a federal law prohibiting interference with trade and competition, by entering into an unlawful agreement that interfered with competition in the health insurance market by: (1) allocating geographic territories among members of the Blues association, thereby limiting subscriber choice; (2) limiting Blue member plans from competing…


November Compliance Recap

Posted On: December 11, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

November Compliance Recap November was a relatively busy month in the employee benefits world. The U.S. Supreme Court (Supreme Court) heard oral arguments in the case of California v. Texas, which is the case challenging the constitutionality of the ACA. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released the updated Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fee for plan years that end on or after October 1, 2020, and before October 1, 2021. The Department of Labor (DOL) released a final rule on financial factors in selecting plan investments that imposes requirements on ERISA plan fiduciaries under their duties of loyalty and general prudence. The IRS released an information letter on the relief available under IRS Notice 2020-29 as it applies to dependent care flexible spending arrangements (DCAPs). The IRS also released an information letter on unused qualified transportation benefits due to COVID-19. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an…


Updated PCORI Fee Released

Posted On: December 2, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

Updated PCORI Fee Released Employers that sponsor certain self-insured health plans are responsible for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fees. Under the Affordable Care Act, PCORI fees were originally scheduled to apply to policy or plan years ending on or after Oct. 1, 2012 and before Oct. 1, 2019. However, in Dec. 2019, PCORI fees were extended for an additional 10 years. Thus, the fee continues to apply for the 2020-2029 fiscal years. New Fee The IRS announced in Notice 2020-84 for plan years that ended on or after October 1, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2021, the fee will adjust to $2.66 per participant. Employers must report and pay the required PCORI fees annually via IRS Form 720 by July 31 of the year following the last day of the plan year. If you have any questions, please contact Innovative Benefit Planning at icomply@ibpllc.com.


October Compliance Recap

Posted On: November 16, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

October was a busy month in the employee benefits world. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) renewed the public health emergency due to COVID-19 which took effect on October 23, 2020. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2020-76 regarding deadline extensions and requirements for reporting of group health coverage offered in 2020 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) as it has done in prior years. The IRS released final instructions for both the 1094-B and 1095-B forms and the 1094-C and 1095-C forms and the final forms for 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C, and 1095-C. The IRS released Notice 2020-79 and Rev. Proc. 2020-45 regarding health plan limits as well as various compensation, benefit, and contribution levels under qualified retirement plans for 2021. The Department of Labor (DOL), HHS, and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) (collectively, the Departments), released interim final rules regarding implementation of…


Final Rules on Coverage Transparency

Posted On: November 16, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, Employee Benefits

Final Rules on Coverage Transparency On October 29, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of Labor (DOL), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (collectively, Departments), released final rules on coverage transparency, in order to provide health coverage recipients with an estimate of their potential cost-sharing liability for health related services prior to the receipt of care. The final rules require group health plans and insurance issuers in the individual and group markets to disclose cost-sharing information and negotiated rates in electronic or paper form. The final rules also allow issuers to reward plan enrollees with “shared savings payments,” without running afoul of medical loss ratio (MLR) requirements. Issuers are permitted to provide employees who use lower-priced providers with a percentage of the savings relative to a benchmark. Effective Dates Public Disclosure of Negotiated Rates and Historical Allowed Amounts: January 1, 2022 Disclosure of Cost Information: January…


NJ Employers Must Adhere to Latest Executive Orders Mandating Health and Safety Protocols for COVID-19

Posted On: November 4, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

NJ Employers Must Adhere to Latest Executive Orders Mandating Health and Safety Protocols for COVID-19 On October 28, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 192 (EO 192), which mandates that New Jersey employers abide by certain health and safety standards in an effort to protect employees and other individuals at workplaces during the pandemic. The executive order, effective 6:00am November 5th,  will take the following actions in three areas: Workplace health and safety standards to cover all NJ workers: The executive order will require both private and public sector employers to follow health and safety protocols that will serve to protect their in-person workforces.  The Order mandates all employers: Require individuals at the worksite to maintain at least six feet of distance from others to the maximum extent possible; Require employees, customers, visitors, and other individuals entering the worksite to wear cloth or disposable face masks…


2021 IRS Contribution Limits for FSA and Commuter Benefits

Posted On: November 2, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

2021 IRS Contribution Limits for FSA and Commuter Benefits On Tuesday, the IRS released 2021 contribution limits for medical FSA and Commuter Benefits for 2021. There are no changes to flexible spending account (FSA) and commuter benefits contribution limits for 2021. The IRS did adjust the contribution limits for adoption assistance programs, increasing the limit from $14,300 to $14,440. Last, HSA contribution limits were announced earlier this year. The limit for an individual is $3,600, while the family contribution limit increased to $7,200. The current and new contribution limits include: Medical FSA Contribution Limit remained the same: $2750 Monthly Commuter Benefits Contribution Limit remained the same: $270 HSA Contribution Limit: Single - $3600; Family - $7200 Adoption Assistance Limit: Increased to $14,440 For a downloadable PDF, click here. If you have any questions about 2021 limits, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your account management team or email us…


Feedback From Our Happy Customers



Need a custom plan designed for your team?

Schedule a Consultation

Contact Us Now To Get Your Business Covered