Health & Welfare

Court Finds Project Completion Incentive Plan Not an ERISA-Covered Severance Plan

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled in Atkins vs. CB&I, LLC, that a Project Completion Incentive (“PCI”) plan which offered a bonus to employees upon termination of employment is not an ERISA-covered severance plan and therefore did not preempt state wage laws.

IRS Says Personal Protective Equipment Expenses are Qualified Medical Expenses

The IRS has issued Announcement 2021-7, which confirms that personal protective equipment (“PPE”) such as masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes purchased “for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19” are qualified medical expenses under Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) Section 213(d). 

Court Says Group Health Plan May Not Exclude Specified Autism Treatments

The District Court for the Northern District of California has ruled, in Doe v. United Behavioral Health, that the exclusion of certain specified procedures related to the treatment of autism violates the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (“MHPAEA”).

American Rescue Plan Act Extends Tax Credits for COVID-19 Leave

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”). Among other provisions aimed at economic recovery, ARPA extends employer tax credit opportunities for certain forms of paid leave related to COVID-19. 

Important Benefit Plan Provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

By Dannae Delano, Israel Goldowitz, Barry Salkin and Roberta Casper Watson

Court Says Welfare Plan Fiduciary Breached Duties by Misusing Participant Contributions

A federal district court in the Western District of Virginia has held, in Hammer v. Johnson Senior Ctr., that the fiduciary for a welfare plan violated its duties of loyalty, care and prudence by misusing a health plan participant’s premium payments to pay operating expenses of the employer. 

Surprise DOL Guidance on Conclusion of One-Year ERISA Compliance Relief Period

By Dannae Delano and Barry Salkin Even with widespread bipartisan support, it can be difficult to draft legislation to address all possible contingencies. In the wake of the events of September 11, 2001, Congress enacted ERISA §518 and Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) §7508A, which generally allow the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury to disregarded a period of time of less than one year in ...

IRS Guidance on Flexible Spending Account Relief Under CAA

The IRS has issued Notice 2021-15 (“Notice”) to provide clarification on the flexible spending account (“FSA”) relief contained in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (“CAA”). The Notice also extends cafeteria plan election relief, and provides guidance on adopting plan amendments to implement these optional changes. 

Employer Failed to Adequately Notify Participant of Group Life Insurance Conversion Rights

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Estate of Foster v. American Marine Servs. Group Benefits Plan, has held that an employer failed to provide a former employee with adequate notice of the limited time period for converting his group life insurance coverage to an individual policy.

CMS Creates Additional Marketplace Special Enrollment Period

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) has determined that the COVID-19 emergency presents exceptional circumstances for consumers in accessing health insurance, and will be providing a new Special Enrollment Period (“SEP”) allowing individuals and families to enroll in individual coverage through the ACA Marketplace.