Earlier this month, NAHU submitted a list of suggestions to the Administration that would provide relief for COVID-19 affected markets so that employers and individuals would be able to maintain or obtain health insurance coverage during the pandemic.
The Department of Labor released guidance that addresses many of the topics included in the letter. In the guidance, the DOL recognizes one of the main concerns that the COVID-19 outbreak may temporarily impede efforts to comply with various requirements and deadlines under ERISA. The guidance applies to employee benefit plans, employers, labor organizations and other plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries, participants and beneficiaries, and service providers subject to ERISA from March 1, 2020, the beginning of the national emergency declared by the president, until 60 days after the announcement of the end of the COVID-19 National Emergency or any other date determined by the DOL in a future notice.
If there are different outbreak period end dates for different parts of the country, the DOL will issue additional guidance regarding the application of the relief to those different areas.
First, the DOL recognized that employers may not be able to comply with certain deadlines due to the pandemic.
In addition, the DOL announced an extension of deadlines for providing other required notices or disclosures to plan participants, beneficiaries and other persons so that plan fiduciaries and plan sponsors have additional time to meet their obligations under Title of I ERISA during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Another concern of NAHU was the deadline for Form 5500 filings.
Finally, in a broader statement, the DOL recognized that affected plan participants and beneficiaries may encounter problems due to the COVID-19 outbreak and suggested that the guiding principle for plans must be to act reasonably, prudently and in the interest of the covered workers and their families who rely on their health, retirement and other employee benefit plans for their physical and economic well-being.