HHS Renews COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
On January 12, 2022, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra extended the COVID-19 public health emergency, continuing the declaration for another 90 days. This was the eighth extension since the public health emergency was first ordered back in January 2020.
The extension enables certain financial aid programs and public health flexibilities, including expansions of telehealth capabilities, to continue for at least three months. It also allows states and counties to waive certain requirements if they have issued their own emergencies.
Additionally, the declaration determines the period during which group health plans and insurers must pay for COVID-19 tests and related services, and cover vaccines as a preventive benefit (even if provided out-of-network).Renewal of Determination That a Public Health Emergency Exists (hhs.gov) »
OSHA Withdraws Employer Vaccine Mandate
On January 25, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) withdrew its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) vaccine mandate for employers who employ 100 or more workers. This withdrawal is in response to a recent Supreme Court decision to impose a stay on enforcement of the standard pending the resolution of a court challenge. More information about the Court’s decision can be found in the January 20, 2022, edition of Compliance Corner. Accordingly, OSHA will not enforce the ETS, although it encourages workers to get vaccinated.
The ETS also served as a proposed rule for a permanent occupational safety and health standard. The agency stated that it continues to serve that function, just without an enforceable emergency temporary standard. This means that the proposed rule is currently making its way through the administrative process and may re-emerge as a final rule later.Interim Final Rule Withdrawal »
Medicare Part D Disclosure to CMS
As a reminder, employers who sponsor a group health plan that provides prescription drug coverage to Medicare Part D eligible individuals must disclose to CMS, on an annual basis, whether the coverage qualifies as creditable or non-creditable. The disclosure is due no later than 60 days after the beginning of each plan year. Thus, for calendar year plans, the disclosure is due March 1, 2022.
Upcoming IRC 6055 and 6056 Reporting Deadlines
Employers that were ALEs in 2021 and sponsored group health plans (whether insured or self-insured) must comply with IRC Section 6056 reporting in early 2022. Specifically, ALEs must complete and distribute Form 1095-C to full-time employees by March 2, 2022 (changed from January 31, 2022). The form should detail whether the employee was offered minimum value, affordable coverage during 2021. The forms may be mailed, electronically delivered or delivered by hand (although proof of delivery in some manner is recommended).
If an employer sponsored a self-insured plan during 2021, it must comply with Section 6055 reporting in 2022. Self-insured employers with 50 or more FTEs must complete Section III of Form 1095-C detailing which months the employee (and any applicable spouse and dependents) had coverage under the employer’s plan. If the self-insured employer has fewer than 50 FTEs, it must complete and distribute a Form 1095-B with such information. Again, the forms must be delivered to employees by March 2, 2022.
Employers must also file the forms with the IRS by February 28, 2022, if filing by paper, and March 31, 2022, if filing electronically. Those that are filing 250 or more forms are required to file electronically. Lastly, the employer is required to file the transmittal Form 1094-C (if filing Forms 1095-C) or Form 1094-B (if filing Forms 1095-B).
As a reminder, the IRS has provided penalty relief for employers that will allow them to forego distributing the Form 1095-B to individuals. This comes after the IRS accepted comments on the necessity of Forms 1095-B now that the individual mandate penalty has been zeroed out. If employers post a notice on their website that the document is available upon request and fulfill any such request within 30 days, then they will not have to distribute Forms 1095-B to covered individuals. But keep in mind that there is no such penalty relief for Form 1095-C.