HHS Renews COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Proclamation
February 02, 2021
On January 7, 2021, HHS announced that the public health emergency proclamation for COVID-19 is renewed for another 90 days, beginning on January 21, 2021 (the date the previous HHS proclamation expired) and extends through April 20, 2021.
The CARES Act and the FFCRA require plans (including self-insured plans) to cover COVID-19 testing without cost-sharing and without pre-authorization. Importantly, that includes diagnostic tests approved, cleared, or authorized by the FDA, subject to a developer’s request for FDA emergency use authorization, or developed in and authorized by a state, as well as serological tests (antibody) tests. Those CARES Act/FFCRA requirements are effective from March 18, 2020, and last through the duration of the HHS-declared public health emergency.
Generally, the emergency declaration lasts for 90 days or until HHS declares that the public health emergency no longer exists, whichever occurs first. HHS may extend the public health emergency declaration for subsequent 90-day periods for as long as the public health emergency continues to exist. HHS previously renewed their declaration in April, July and October (which expired on January 21, 2021).
Employers should be aware of the HHS proclamation renewal. While carriers (for fully insured plans) and TPAs (for self-insured plans) will likely handle the administrative aspects of COVID-19 testing and billing, employers will want to understand the coverage requirements in connection with the proclamation extension.
Biden Administration Issues Executive Order to Strengthen the ACA and Create a Special Enrollment Period
Reminder: 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, 2021.
Reminder: Upcoming IRC 6055 and 6056 Reporting Deadlines
Employers that were ALEs in 2020 must comply with IRC Section 6056 reporting in early 2021. Specifically, ALEs must complete and distribute a Form 1095-C to full-time employees by March 2, 2021 (the IRS changed this from January 31, 2021). The form should detail whether the employee was offered minimum value, affordable coverage during 2020. 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 2020, it must comply with Section 6055 reporting in 2021. 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, 2021.
Employers must also file the forms with the IRS by March 1, 2021 (as February 28, 2021 falls on a Sunday), if filing by paper, and March 31, 2021, 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 recently provided penalty relief for employers which will allow them to forego distributing the Form 1095-B to individuals. This comes after the IRS accepted comments on the necessity of the 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 fulfil any such request within 30 days, then they will not have to distribute the Forms 1095-B to covered individuals. But keep in mind that there is no such penalty relief for Form 1095-C.
FAQ: If the individual mandate penalty is zero, do I still need to provide the Form 1095-C to employees? If so, can these forms be provided electronically?
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