May 15, 2020
As Congress readies another round of legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the Business Group sent a letter to House and Senate leadership encouraging Congress to ensure access to affordable, high-quality, employer-sponsored health and welfare benefits.
Specifically, the Business Group called for:
- Increasing employers’ flexibility to limit COVID-19-related out-of-pocket costs for individuals enrolled in high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) paired with health savings accounts (HSAs);
- Increasing flexibility in cafeteria plan rules for emergency situations;
- Protecting patients from surprise billing;
- Supporting employer-sponsored paid leave benefits;
- Ensuring access to medications; and
- Easing employees’ health coverage transitions.
- Require group health plans and other insurers to cover COVID-19 treatment without plan participant cost-sharing.
- Provide full COBRA premiums subsidies through January of 2021 for people who are laid off, working reduced hours or furloughed.
- Expand the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act (providing 12 weeks of job-protected paid leave) and Emergency Paid Sick Leave (PSL) Act (providing 80 hours of paid sick leave to full-time employees) to all private employers. Previously, it only applied to employers with fewer than 500 employees. Additionally, the PSL provisions require employers to provide this leave in addition to any existing paid leave programs before enactment and expire the requirement by 12/31/21 instead of 2020.
- Ban balance billing of individuals for COVID care if the providers are receiving funds from the Health Care Provider Relief Fund. It doesn’t address plan and provider payments outside of protecting individuals.
- Permit individuals to roll over health and dependent care flexible spending account (FSA) remaining balances from 2020 to 2021 and increase contribution flexibility.
- Increase the employee retention credit.
- Includes additional provisions impacting providers, state and local governments, as well as additional stimulus funding for individuals.
For more details on our specific legislative asks, read more here.
What Happens Next?
After passing four COVID-19 bills, including legislation which provides aid for small businesses/ hospitals and funding for virus testing/treatment and vaccine development, Congress is weighing further legislation. Details are likely to change substantially before a bill is passed by Congress, but the House introduced a $3 trillion bill that would:
Meanwhile, the President is advocating for a payroll tax cut, but his team is leaning toward a wait-and-see approach, which is favored by some Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
For a full list of related resources, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Page.
We provide this material for informational purposes only; it is not a substitute for legal advice.