Human Resources

The Washington Report

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January 20, 2021

Note to subscribers: Due to the current environment, information is changing at a rapid rate. While we do our best to provide timely updates, it is possible that the information shared in the newsletter may change or be revised after our publication deadline. Stay healthy and safe! ~The Washington Report team



CMS Publishes Final Rule on Contract Year 2022 Policy and Technical Changes to the MA Program, Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Program, Medicaid Program, and Medicare Cost Plan Program
On January 15, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a final rule that will revise regulations for the Medicare Advantage (MA) program, Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit (Part D) program, Medicaid program, Medicare Cost Plan program, and Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) to implement certain sections of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and the Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act, enhance the Part C and D programs and the PACE program, codify several existing CMS policies, make required statutory changes, implement other technical changes, and make routine updates. As stated in the final rule that appeared in the Federal Register on June 2, 2020, CMS is fulfilling its intention to address the remaining proposals from the February 2020 proposed rule here. The final rule becomes effective March 22, 2021. Most of the provisions in the final rule will be applicable to coverage beginning January 1, 2022, except as noted in the final rule.

The news release is available here.

The Contract Year 2022 MA and Part D Final Rule (CMS-4190-F2) Fact Sheet is available here.

The final rule is available here.

CMS Releases 2022 MA and Part D Rate Announcement
CMS also announced on January 15, 2021, the 2022 MA and Part D rates. CMS released the rates three months earlier than usual, “providing Medicare health and prescription drug plans more time to consider this information as they prepare and finalize their bids for 2022, which are due June 7, 2021.” The announcement follows the release of the Contract Year 2022 MA and Part D final rule on January 15, 2021 (provided earlier in newsletter) that includes additional policies applicable to coverage for the 2022 plan year and will “potentially lower beneficiary cost sharing on some of the most expensive prescription drugs.”

The news release is available here.

The 2022 Medicare Advantage and Part D Rate Announcement Fact Sheet is available here.

The 2022 Rate Announcement is available here.

CMS Publishes Final Rule on 2022 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters
On January 14, 2021, CMS issued a rule finalizing a number of proposed provisions for the annual Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2022 (the 2022 Payment Notice). CMS anticipates continuing to review comments and finalizing other proposed policies in a second final rule to be published at a later date. "Working to address comments and feedback from the public after publishing the proposed 2022 payment notice in November 2020, CMS is using this first final rule to tackle a number of critical priorities. Today’s rule finalizes changes to reduce consumer costs, empower states to develop their own unique plans, accelerate innovation, and clarify program requirements.”

The final rule sets forth provisions related to user fees for federally facilitated and state-based Exchanges. It includes changes related to acceptance of payments by issuers of individual market Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) and clarifies the regulation imposing network adequacy standards with regard to QHPs that do not use provider networks. It also adds a new direct enrollment option for federally facilitated Exchanges and state Exchanges and implements changes related to Section 1332 State Innovation Waivers. The final rule becomes effective on March 15, 2021. For additional information, please refer to the final rule and Fact Sheet.

The news release is available here.

The CMS Fact Sheet is available here.

The final rule is available here.

IRS and Treasury Release Final HRA Regulations
On January 13, 2021, the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released final regulations to clarify the application of the employer shared responsibility provisions and certain nondiscrimination rules under the Internal Revenue Code to health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and other account-based group health plans integrated with individual health insurance coverage or Medicare (individual coverage HRAs), and to provide certain safe harbors with respect to the application of those provisions to individual coverage HRAs. The final regulations affect employers, employees and their family members, plan sponsors, and health insurance issuers that offer individual health insurance coverage. The final regulations become effective when officially published in the Federal Register (date unknown).

The final rules are temporarily available here.
(This document has been submitted to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) for publication and will be pending placement on public display at the OFR and publication in the Federal Register. The version of the final rule released today may vary slightly from the published document if minor editorial changes are made during the OFR review process. The document published in the Federal Register will be the official document.)



EBSA Issues Three Forms of Missing Participant Guidance
On January 12, 2021, the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) announced guidance in its ongoing efforts to help plan fiduciaries meet their obligations under Title I of ERISA to locate and distribute retirement benefits to missing or nonresponsive participants. The EBSA guidance comes in the following three forms:

  • Best Practices for Pension Plans describes a range of best practices fiduciaries of retirement plans, such as 401(k) plans, should consider as steps their plan could take to help reduce missing participant issues and ensure that plan participants receive promised benefits when they reach retirement age;
  • Compliance Assistance Release 2021-01 outlines the general investigative approach that will guide all of EBSA’s Regional Offices under the Terminated Vested Participants Project and facilitate voluntary compliance efforts by plan fiduciaries; and
  • Field Assistance Bulletin 2021-01 authorizes, as a matter of enforcement policy, plan fiduciaries of terminating defined contribution plans use of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation missing participant program for missing or nonresponsive participant’s account balances.

The EBSA news release is available here.

Best Practices for Pension Plans is available here.

Compliance Assistance Release 2021-01 is available here.

Field Assistance Bulletin 2021-01 is available here.

Other HR/Employment


After Delay Due to COVID, EEOC Schedules Openings of EEO Data Collections
On January 12, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that after having to delay the opening of the 2019 EEO-1 Component 1 and the 2020 EEO-3 and 2020 EEO-5 Data Collections on May 8, 2020, due to COVID, collections will open in 2021. The EEOC will open four data collections in 2021, including the 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 Component 1 Data Collection as well as the 2020 EEO-3, 2021 EEO-4, and 2020 EEO-5 Data Collections. The collections are scheduled to open in the following months:

April 2021: 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 Component 1 Data Collection (Private Sector Employers)
July 2021: 2020 EEO-5 Data Collection (Public Elementary/Secondary School Districts)
August 2021: 2020 EEO-3 Data Collection (Local Referral Unions)
October 2021: 2021 EEO-4 Data Collection (State/Local Governments)

The EEO reports collect data from employers in different sectors of the workforce. The EEOC was planning to open the following EEO data collections in 2020: the 2019 EEO-1 Component 1 (Employer Information Report); the 2020 EEO-3 (Local Report); and the 2020 EEO-5 (Elementary-Secondary Staff Information Report). Recognizing the impact that the pandemic was having on workplaces and the challenges that both employers and employees were facing, the EEOC delayed the collections until 2021 to allow EEO filers to be better positioned to provide accurate, valid, and reliable data in a timely manner.

The news release is available here.

Additional information on the data collection is available here.

Aon Publications


HHS Again Renews COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration
On January 7, 2021, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar again renewed the public health emergency (PHE) declaration. The renewal extends the declaration for another 90 days, until April 21, 2021, although the Secretary has the right to terminate the declaration prior to that expiration date.

The Aon bulletin on the renewal of the PHE is available here.

Now Available: 2021 Aon Compliance Calendar: Significant Retirement and Health & Welfare Due Dates
Aon is pleased to present its 2021 Compliance Calendar to help plan sponsors identify significant compensation and benefit due dates for retirement and health and welfare plans. This Compliance Calendar includes relevant dates involving plan disclosures, contribution and distribution requirements, and various plan-related regulatory filings.

This Compliance Calendar assumes a plan administered on a calendar year basis by an employer with a calendar fiscal year. In general, the information for pension plans applies to single employer plans; other plans, such as multiemployer plans (e.g., Taft-Hartley plans) or government plans, may be subject to different requirements, and are not included. Additionally, certain compliance dates related to group health plan coverage or retiree prescription drug coverage have been included where applicable.

The Compliance Calendar is intended to alert the reader to some of the more significant dates for 2021 and is not intended to identify all compliance obligations or due dates.

The 2021 Aon Compliance Calendar: Significant Retirement and Health & Welfare Due Dates is available here.

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