Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center: Protecting Employers and their Workforce:
The JRW Associates Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center is a collection of news and resources assisting our partner clients in their efforts to proactively address the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is an international, national and NC public health emergency transmitted mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. In full preparation, our team will continue dedicating our best in class resources and tools to help our partner clients, their businesses and employees stay on the forefront of this global pandemic.
We will continue to closely monitor the spread of COVID-19 and will remain following guidance from appropriate government health organizations. Our firm has instituted restrictions on domestic and international business travel as well as any regularly scheduled in person meeting and events. Additionally, we have approved and implemented formalities exercising mandatory Work-From-Home guidelines for our colleagues and staff.
We fully recognize no contingency action strategy can sufficiently eliminate the disruption of temporary service interruption. During this time, our teams key focus is to safely continue advising, educating, communicating, and supporting our partner clients with superior service.
Please continue to refer back to the COVID-19 Resource Center for reliable updates.
Urgent Update: Department of Labor Guidance on at Home COVID-19 Test:
The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury (collectively, the Departments) issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Monday that generally require group health plans and insurers to cover the costs of at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 tests (OTC COVID-19 Tests) approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and purchased on or after January 15, 2022. Plans and insurers may, but are not required to, cover the cost for OTC COVID-19 Tests bought before January 15 (though some states have existing rules requiring these tests to be covered by carriers). The FAQs expand prior guidance that has only required plans and carriers to cover the costs of testing administered by a health care provider.
Generally, the FAQs provide that covered individuals can go online or visit a pharmacy or store and buy approved OTC COVID-19 Tests. Each person covered under a plan may get up to eight OTC COVID-19 Tests per month, so a family of four could get up to 32 tests each month. There currently is no limit on at-home tests ordered or administered by a healthcare provider.
Plans and carriers have the option of covering the tests free of charge at the point of sale, or they can reimburse the costs of the tests upon an individual showing proof of purchase. A safe harbor will allow plans and insurers to provide free testing through existing pharmacy or direct delivery networks provided they take reasonable steps to ensure that participants, beneficiaries, and enrollees have access to OTC COVID-19 Tests through an adequate number of retail locations (including both in-person and online locations). Further, the FAQ state that plans and issuers should ensure that participants, beneficiaries and enrollees know key information needed to access OTC COVID-19 Tests, such as the dates when the direct coverage program is available, and a list of participating retailers or other locations.
If a plan or carrier has set up a network to take advantage of the FAQ safe harbor, individuals still can go out of network, but plans and insurers would only be required to reimburse at a rate of up to $12 per test (or the cost of the test if under $12). The FAQs caution, however, that a plan or insurer that relies on the safe harbor, but is unable to meet the requirements (for example, due to significantly longer delays regarding availability of OTC COVID-19 Tests than apply to other items under the plan’s or issuer’s direct-to-consumer shipping program), cannot deny coverage or impose cost sharing (including setting limits on the amount of reimbursement) with respect to any OTC COVID-19 Tests obtained by participants, beneficiaries or enrollees, including tests purchased from non-preferred sellers. Finally, if a plan or issuer has not set up a network to provide free point-of-sale OTC COVID-19 Tests, it must reimburse the full cost of the tests.
Employers should note that the OTC COVID-19 testing mandate does not apply to tests required for employment purposes. Thus, where an employer requires employees to test multiple times per week and submit results as a condition of employment, insurers are not required to cover the costs under the new rules. Consumers will welcome the recent announcement regarding at-home testing costs, but questions remain as to how the program will function. We will continue to monitor developments and provide updates as we learn more details.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Materials:
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued:
The CDC has also created the following posters for download:
Department of Labor (DOL) Materials:
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has created a resource page for workers and employers. The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division has posted these posters and guidance:
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Materials:
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has created a landing page entitled What You Should Know About the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and COVID-19, which provides links to resources and guidance.
Health and Human Services (HHS) Materials:
In response to COVID-19, the Office of Civil Rights for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a bulletin regarding HIPAA Privacy and COVID-19.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued the following:
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) Accommodation and Compliance: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) webpage links to resources for employers regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and coronavirus.
The National Governors Association (NGA) Coronavirus: What You Need to Know web page tracks state initiatives and provides other data.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Materials:
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created a COVID-19 website for workers and employers that addresses the disease and provides guidance and other resources for preventing exposure to and infection with the virus.
Topics covered include:
OSHA has also issued the publication Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.
Small Business Administration Materials:
The U.S. Small Business Administration has issued guidance entitled SBA Disaster Assistance in Response to the Coronavirus, explaining how the SBA is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Also see Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources.
JRW Associates, Inc. Strategic Resources:
Additional JRW COVID-19 Employer Materials:
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Raleigh, NC 27609