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Benefits Insider

The Benefits Insider is a bimonthly member exclusive publication prepared for WorldatWork members by the American Benefits Council(“the Council”), a premiere benefits advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. This newsletter provides the latest news and analysis on the most important benefits-related policy matters in Congress, executive branch agencies and the federal judiciary.

Please note: any views or opinions expressed in these stories represent the advocacy positions of the American Benefits Council and its membership. They do not necessarily reflect the views of WorldatWorkor its membership. To inquire about membership with the American Benefits Council, contact Deanna Johnson at (202) 289-6700 or djohnson@abcstaff.org.

Contents


July 19, 2021 (covering new from July 3 - July 19, 2021)

The Biden administration issues executive order to promote competition in health care and other areas; PBGC and IRS issue guidance implementing multiemployer plan assistance program; Supreme Court to hear a case challenging retirement plan fees and investment options

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July 2, 2021 (covering new from June 18 - July 2, 2021)

ERISA advisory committee hears testimony on savings disparities; IRS extends remote notarization for spousal consent requirement.

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June 18, 2021 (covering news from June 2 — 17, 2021)

As part of Congress’ examination of the Biden administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget proposal, the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee questioned U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Marty Walsh in a June 9 hearing. A number of benefits-related topics were addressed by the lawmakers during the session. Also covered in this edition, The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has formally released its Spring 2021 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, providing updated information on a number of important employee benefits-related regulatory projects.

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June 1, 2021 (covering news from May 18 – June 1, 2021)

Legislative activity covers Biden's first budget, a bipartisan retirement reform bill and a new bipartisan bill that would make expanded telehealth access permanent.

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May 15, 2021 (covering news from May 4 – 17, 2021)

Legislative activity covers the Ways and Means Committee unanimously approving the bipartisan retirement bill. Regulatory issues cover the DOL withdrawing the Independent Contractor Rule. Regarding select provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently finalized certain aspects of the Notice of Benefits and Payment Parameters (NBPP) for 2022.

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May 1, 2021 (covering news from April 17 – May 3, 2021)

This edition covers current legislative bills introduced and other regulatory and judicial activity. On April 28, President Biden unveiled a comprehensive American Families Plan, which proposes the creation of a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program.

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April 16, 2021 (covering news from April 1 – 15, 2021)

The U.S. Department of Labor issued guidance to help retirement plan sponsors reduce cybersecurity risks. EBSA issues FAQs, model notices for COBRA subsidy under ARPA; Important IRS guidance still to come. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has extended the due date for federal income tax returns, which also automatically postpones the time for affected taxpayers to make 2020 contributions to their individual retirement arrangements (IRAs and Roth IRAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), Archer Medical Savings Accounts (Archer MSAs), and Coverdell education savings accounts (Coverdell ESAs) to May 17, 2021.

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April 1, 2021 (covering news from March 15-31, 2021)

The American Benefits Council submitted a letter to the Departments of Labor, Treasury and Health and Human Services requesting guidance urgently needed to implement the COBRA subsidy provisions included in the recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rejects ERISA preemption argument and upholds state health law.

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March 15, 2021 (covering news from February 29 – March 14, 2021)

This edition highlights information on the Economic Stimulus Bill signed into law, which includes pension funding stabilization and COBRA subsidies. A subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives reviewed the advancements of telehealth over the past year during a surge in utilization due to the COVID-19 pandemic and discussed what the future of telehealth should look like.

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February 16, 2021 (covering news from February 1 - 15, 2021)

Topics include coverage of a legislative package pursued under Democratic control of Congress will be a budget reconciliation bill focused on pandemic relief. With Congress already working on a comprehensive budget reconciliation bill including numerous pandemic relief provisions, the American Benefits Council is urging lawmakers, through numerous conversations and formal communications, to provide ongoing and additional support to employer health plan sponsors.

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February 1, 2021 (covering news from January 5-31, 2021)

Biden administration begins with a flurry of Executive activity; recent rules under review include ESG investment regulations. Biden pandemic relief proposal includes COBRA subsidies and paid leave provisions.

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January 5, 2021 (covering new from December 15, 2020 - January 4, 2021

Congress Reaches Agreement on Government Funding, Pandemic Relief Legislation; Includes Several Health, Retirement Policy Provisions. Multiple Retirement Policy Bills Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, Council Anticipates Increased Activity in the New Year.

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December 15, 2020 (covering news from December 1-14, 2020)

The U.S. Congress has passed a one-week extension of government funding, averting a shutdown and likely leaving one more week for the Council to advocate for numerous benefits policy priorities before the congressional session ends. The Senate Finance Committee Hears Recommendations for Improving Retirement Security. PBGC Annual Report Reveals Increased Single-Employer Surplus, Underfunded Multiemployer Program.

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December 1, 2020 (covering news from November 16-30, 2020)

The U.S. Treasury Department and IRS recently released the 2020-2021 Priority Guidance Plan outlining their anticipated regulatory projects during the 12-month period from July 2020 through June 2021. The Council  Congress considers additional COVID-19 relief legislation and urging congressional action to stabilize single-employer pension plan funding before the end of the year. 

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November 16, 2020 (covering news from November 3-5, 2020)

A comprehensive bipartisan retirement policy legislation introduced in House of Representatives. Executive branch agencies finalize price transparency rules for group health plans. The Trump administration issued interim final regulations for numerous issues related to the eventual COVID-19 vaccine and testing for COVID-19.

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November 4, 2020 (covering news from October 17- November 3, 2020)

A comprehensive bipartisan retirement policy legislation introduced in House of Representatives. Executive branch agencies finalize price transparency rules for group health plans. The Trump administration issued interim final regulations for numerous issues related to the eventual COVID-19 vaccine and testing for COVID-19.

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October 16, 2020 (covering news from October 1-16, 2020)

The IRS issued a notice on October 2, providing relief from some of the Affordable Care Act’s information reporting requirements for health insurers and employers for 2020. The notice is welcome news in that it extends relief provided in prior years though it indicates that this is the last year relief will be provided.

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October 1, 2020 (covering news from September 16-September 30, 2020)

Guidance finalized on 2021 tax withholding, giving the IRS additional flexibility. The DOL proposed a new rule modifying determination of independent contractors, updating the standards for determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

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September 16, 2020 (covering news from August 25-September 15, 2020)

The IRS has issued guidance on certain provisions of the SECURE Act retirement plan provisions. Proposed EBSA rule on proxy voting highlights economic factors for plan fiduciaries. The IRS allows amended determination letter requests for statutory hybrid plans.

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August 24, 2020 (covering news from August 4-24, 2020)

The Senate Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management held a hearing in which lawmakers examined federal policies regarding remote work and its challenges. The IRS issues additional guidance on CARES Act retirement provisions.

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August 3, 2020 (covering news from July 17 – August 3, 2020)

Multiple employer groups encourage federal funding support for COVID-19 testing. DOL seeks input on state paid leave Laws. The U.S. President issues executive orders on drug prices, including prescription drug rebates.

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July 16, 2020 (covering news from July 2 - 16, 2020)

Polling data shows strong support for additional financial assistance for COBRA coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. departments of Labor, Treasury and Health and Human Services issued proposed regulations modifying certain aspects of the current rules regarding loss of grandfathered plan status under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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July 1, 2020 (covering news from June 17 – July 1, 2020)

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has issued new fiduciary standards for providers of investment advice, including a summary of the regulatory package. The IRS issues guidance on mid-year reductions and relief for Safe Harbor plans.

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June 16, 2020 (covering news from June 2 - 16, 2020)

The EEOC votes to approve a wellness proposal under the ADA. An overview of the efforts at the state level to expand retirement coverage in ways that would burden existing employer-sponsored plans or impose alternative rules on retirement plans.

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June 1, 2020 (covering news from May 19 - June 1, 2020)

The IRS Releases 2021 Indexed Amounts for HSAs, HDHPs and includes a table listing out the current 2020 amounts and the new 2021 amounts. The IRS also has temporarily extended a number of deadlines for certain employee benefits filings in light of the ongoing pandemic.

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May 1, 2020 (covering news from April 17 – May 1, 2020)

Final regulations expanding electronic disclosure for retirement plans have been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), New IRS guidance permits electronic requests for private letter rulings, and other guidance.

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April 16, 2020 (covering news from April 2 - 16, 2020)

Summary of IRS extensions on numerous deadlines as part of Coronavirus relief. An overview of the economic stimulus package and dealing with surprise medical billing of COVID-19 patients.

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April 2, 2020 (covering news from March 19 - April 1, 2020)

This edition covers COVID-19 response legislation and a bill linking retirement contributions to student loan repayment that was introduced in the House. IRS extends certain retirement plan deadlines. Legislation introduced to protect lump-sum recipients.

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March 18, 2020 (covering news from March 3 - March 18, 2020)

This edition includes a legislative update dealing with the coronavirus (COVID-19). A summary on the House passed COVID-19 response legislation. The Treasury and IRS issue guidance allowing HDHP’s to cover screening and treatment for COVID-19 pre-deductibles.

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March 2, 2020 (covering news from Feb 19- March 2, 2020)

This edition summarizes recent regulatory, legislative and judicial activity, including comments on new compensation rules under Section 162(m). The Know the Price Act (H.R. 6005), known as the health price transparency bill, was introduced in the House. The high court upholds ruling against plan sponsor in plan disclosure statute of limitations decision.

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