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OCR HIPAA Guidance For Getting PHI of COVID-19 Exposed Individuals to First Responders

With first responders on the front lines of helping to fight the coronavirus, sharing information about potential exposure to COVID-19 is critical to protecting them and preventing further spread. In these situations, the information shared is most often “protected health information” (PHI) under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule.

Special COVID-19 Health Insurance Enrollment Windows and Waivers

As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are observing all sorts of never-before-seen changes in the fully-insured group health plan space. Many insurers are liberally waiving their normal rules to accommodate the continuation of coverage to employers and employees in their time of need. Although the accommodations are welcome, employers need to exercise caution before allowing employees to take full advantage of the changes. There are ERISA and tax law implications to consider that are often left out of the insurer announcements related to coverage enhancements, and employee communications of legal mandates are key.

Employee Benefits Issues to Consider Before Deciding to Furlough or Terminate Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With the combination of our nation’s response to COVID-19 and the resultant economic downturn, employers of all sizes face the moral and financial dilemma of evaluating employee headcounts while businesses are grappling with the reality of the current situation. Many employers are considering furloughs, or other types of approved leaves of absences, to reduce immediate payroll, hoping the downturn lasts for a period of a few weeks instead of months. Other employers are opting to implement systemic reductions in the workforce and let employees go. The focus of this article is to highlight that different employment actions produce different employee benefits consequences that must also be part of any employment decision.

Employee Benefits Issues — Coronavirus

As the coronavirus continues to spread within the United States, employers are dealing with a number of issues with respect to workforce, labor, and employee benefits. The following are common questions regarding employee benefits issues that employers may face sooner rather than later. We will update this list of questions and answers as the situation unfolds.

HIPAA Privacy Rule Waiver, Other Medical Information Questions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As the coronavirus spreads across the globe and in the United States, providers, businesses, employers, and others are struggling to understand what medical information they can collect and what information they can share. These are difficult questions the answers to which involve considering factors such as long-standing compliance requirements (e.g., HIPAA, ADA, GINA, state law), the unprecedented times we are in, business risk, and common sense. Government is trying to act to relieve some of these challenges, but questions still remain.

IRS Issues Proposed Rule on Business Expense Deductions

On February 26, 2020, the IRS published proposed regulations implementing changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) regarding the elimination of deductions for entertainment and the limitation on food and beverage expenses. The regulations largely track prior IRS guidance, Notice 2018-76, on these issues.

March 31st Deadline for 403(b) Plan Sponsors

If your organization sponsors a 403(b) plan for employees and has not adopted an up-to-date written plan document that complies with the applicable regulations, you have until March 31, 2020 to do so. Failure to do could cause substantial negative tax consequences for employees (and the organization) or cause the organization to incur substantial penalties to avoid those consequences.

The Supreme Court Defines Actual Knowledge

In a closely watched decision, Intel Corporation Investment Policy Committee v. Sulyma, Slip Op. No. 18-1116 (U.S. S. Ct., Feb. 26, 2020), construing ERISA’s three-year statute of limitations, see ERISA § 413(2), 29 U.S.C. § 1113(2), the Supreme Court held unanimously (J. Alito) that “actual knowledge” means “. . . when a plaintiff actually is aware of the relevant facts, not when he should be.”

ACA Checkup: What Do Employers Need to Know in 2020?

Despite multiple challenges, many portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) are still in effect and employers are taking steps to remain in compliance with the law. This fact sheet is intended as a quick checkup as businesses prepare for reporting on coverage offered under their employer-sponsored healthcare plans in 2019 and develop their compliance strategies for 2020.

HIPAA Privacy and Coronavirus

With the recent spread of coronavirus (2019-nCoV), it is an important time to examine what information employers may share under HIPAA’s Privacy Rule during an outbreak of infectious disease or other emergency situation.
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