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COVID-19: May 2020 Update from ABG

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Category: COBRA, Compliance and Regulatory,

On May 4, 2020 Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and Employee Benefits Security Administration (“EBSA”) issued a final ruling regarding the extension of certain COBRA timeframes during the COVID-19 National Emergency in its “Extension of Certain Timeframes for Employee Benefit Plans, Participants, and Beneficiaries Affected by the COVID-19 Outbreak” notice. The intent of this ruling is to provide relief that is immediately needed to preserve and protect the benefits or participants and beneficiaries in all employee benefit plans across the Unites States during the National Emergency.

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IRS and DOL Provide Deadline Relief

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Category: COBRA,

IRS and DOL Provide Relief for Participants and Plan Sponsors from Certain Time Deadlines Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Yesterday, recognizing the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor released guidance that extends the period of time that a participant has in enrolling in coverage under a health plan, paying for COBRA continuation coverage, submitting claims for coverage and disputing denials of claims for benefits. The guidance also extends the period of time that a group health plan sponsor or administrator has to provide a COBRA election notice. Agency FAQs were also released related to the guidance. Essentially, the guidance provides that actions that must be taken with the time period from March 1, 2020 until 60 days after the time the federal government declares the COVID-19 emergency (referred to as the “Outbreak Period”) has ended will be disregarded . 

The guidance states that the following actions that are required to be taken during the Outbreak Period are extended until after the Outbreak Period ends:

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COVID-19 - Important Update

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Category: COBRA, Compliance and Regulatory, Health Care Reform, HRA,

As we continue to monitor developments and consider American Benefits Group’s response and contingency plans in the context of the coronavirus developments, our priority is the safety of our employees and ensuring our ability to continue to service our clients’ needs.

Our Critical Response Group is composed of leaders and subject matter experts across our business lines. This group is meeting daily to assess the impact across our business and in our communities, advise the executive management, develop and deploy actions.

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Bob Cummings Reelected as President of NAPBA

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Category: Cafeteria Plans, CDHC, COBRA, Compliance and Regulatory, Flexible Spending, Health Savings, HRA, HSA,

American Benefits Group CEO and Founder Bob Cummings Reelected as President of NAPBA May 28th 2019 - Bob Cummings has been reelected to serve as President of The National Association of Professional Benefits Administrators (NAPBA). A NAPBA Trustee since 2007, Cummings was first elected NAPBA president in 2015, and has been an instrumental force in the emergence of the Consumer Directed HealthCare industry over the last 20 years, orchestrating the growth of NAPBA as the primary compliance standards and best practice organization for third party employee benefits administrators serving the consumer directed healthcare industry.

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2018 APEX award for Operational Efficiency and Excellence from Alegeus leadership

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Category: Cafeteria Plans, CDHC, COBRA,

American Benefits Group (ABG) of Northampton MA, a leading national benefits service and solution provider in the health benefits industry has been recognized by healthcare benefits payments giant Alegeus as the 2018 APEX Award winner for Operational Efficiency and Excellence. The award was presented at the Alegeus National Conference on May 16th in Orlando Florida.

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IRS and DOL Publish Guidance for Those Impacted by Hurricane Irma

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Category: CDHC, COBRA, Compliance and Regulatory, IRS,

Similar to action taken a few weeks ago in response to Hurricane Harvey, the IRS and DOL both recently published guidance containing certain relief for those individuals and businesses in Hurricane Irma’s path.

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IRS and DOL Publish Guidance for Those Impacted by Hurricane Harvey

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Category: COBRA, Compliance and Regulatory,

The IRS and DOL both recently published guidance containing some relief for those individuals and businesses in designated Texas counties that have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Specifically, the IRS offered extensions for certain tax filing deadlines that applies automatically to any individual or business who resides with the affected Texas counties (as outlined in the notice). As a result, if a form was due on or after Aug. 23, 2017, the form is now due on Jan. 31, 2018. The relief would apply to those employers that may have previously applied for a Form 5500 filing extension (either automatically or via Form 5558), as well as for any quarterly payroll/employment/excise tax filings due. Employers should work with their broker and/or professional accountant (or outside tax counsel) when it comes to appropriately filing extensions.

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American Benefits Group is Featured in the current edition of BusinessWest

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Category: CDHC, COBRA, Flexible Spending, FSA, Health Reimbursement, Health Reimbursement Arrangements, Health Savings, HRA, HSA, Section 125 Plans, Transit and Parking Section 132,

When Bob Cummings started out in benefits administration, health-insurance co-pays were $3, premiums were well under $100 a month, his office ran on MS-DOS, and it issued paper statements. Much has changed since then, obviously, but not his company’s success formula, based on personalization, creativity, knowledge of a complex and ever-changing subject, and what American Benefits Group prefers to call ‘enabling technology.’
 
George O'Brien on October 5, 2015 in BusinessWest


See the entire American Benefits Group story in the October 5th Issue of BusinessWest and BusinessWest.com 
http://businesswest.com/blog/abg-thrives-in-complex-world-of-benefits-administration/ 

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ABG Recognized as 2015 Customer Service Champion with Alegeus Apex Award

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Category: Cafeteria Plans, CDHC, COBRA,

American Benefits Group of Northampton, MA has been recognized as the 2015 Customer Service Champion by healthcare consumerism market leader Alegeus Technologies. The award was presented to ABG management on May 8th at the national Alegeus Client Conference in San Diego.

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One-Time Special Enrollment for COBRA participants

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Category: COBRA, Compliance and Regulatory,

On May 2, 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (part of HHS) issued a bulletin to deal with Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs).

HHS is concerned that former Model COBRA Continuation Coverage Election Notices (Model Election Notices) published by the Department of Labor and other documents provided by employers did not address, or did not sufficiently address, Marketplace options for persons eligible for COBRA.

The concern? Persons eligible for COBRA and their qualified beneficiaries may have had insufficient information to understand that they cannot voluntarily drop COBRA and enroll in the Marketplace outside of Marketplace open enrollment.

As a result, in accordance with 45 CFR 155.420(d)(9), HHS is providing an additional special enrollment period based on exceptional circumstances so that persons eligible for COBRA and COBRA beneficiaries are able to select Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) in the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (www.healthcare.gov).

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DOL Releases Proposed Guidance Affecting COBRA Model Notices

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Category: COBRA, DOL, PPACA,

On May 2, 2014, EBSA released an advanced copy of proposed rulemaking, which will be published in the May 7, 2014, Federal Register. The guidance amends notice requirements for COBRA so as to better align PPACA and COBRA notice requirements and to add information relating to special enrollment rights in the state health insurance exchanges.

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CMS Issues Guidance Related to COBRA Coverage and Exchange Eligibility

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Category: COBRA, Compliance and Regulatory,

On April 21, 2014, CMS issued guidance, in the form of a frequently asked question (FAQ), clarifying how COBRA coverage impacts an individual's eligibility to enroll in the exchange and to receive a premium tax credit. As background, the open enrollment period for almost all exchanges ended March 31, 2014. Individuals may only enroll in the exchange midyear if they qualify for a special enrollment period due to a qualifying event. The FAQ clarifies that during the open enrollment period for the exchange, an individual who has voluntarily terminated his/her COBRA coverage (i.e., COBRA coverage has not been exhausted) will be eligible to enroll in a qualified health plan through the exchange.

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Important Affordable Care Act Deadline: Employee Notices of the Health Insurance Marketplace (Exchange) Due by October 1, 2013 (copy)

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Category: CDHC, COBRA, Compliance and Regulatory, DOL, Health Care Reform, IRS, PPACA, Taxes,

On May 8, 2013, the Employee Benefits Security Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued Technical Release No. 2013-02 (“Release”) providing important guidance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (“Affordable Care Act”), with regard to the requirement that employers provide notices to their employees of the existence of the Health Insurance Marketplace (“Marketplace”), previously referred to as the “Exchange.”

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Important Affordable Care Act Deadline: Employee Notices of the Health Insurance Marketplace (Exchange) Due by October 1, 2013

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Category: CDHC, COBRA, Compliance and Regulatory, DOL, Health Care Reform, IRS, PPACA, Taxes,

On May 8, 2013, the Employee Benefits Security Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued Technical Release No. 2013-02 (“Release”) providing important guidance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (“Affordable Care Act”), with regard to the requirement that employers provide notices to their employees of the existence of the Health Insurance Marketplace (“Marketplace”), previously referred to as the “Exchange.”

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New Benefits Coordinator’s Failure to Provide COBRA Election Notice Leads to Stiff Penalties for Employer


Category: COBRA, Compliance and Regulatory, DOL, ERISA,

From the November 08, 2012 EBIA Weekly
[Evans v. Books-A-Million, 2012 WL 5379351 (N.D. Ala. 2012)]

The terminated employee in this case sued her former employer for, among other things, not providing her a COBRA election notice for its group dental plan.

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