Workers’ Comp COVID-19 Payroll Reporting Rules Sunsetting

| posted in Blog

The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau has announced that two temporary payroll reporting rules to reflect changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders will sunset. The move comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s June 9 executive order which revoked the statewide stay-at-home order that had been in place since March 19, 2020. You may recall that after the stay-at-home order took effect, the Rating Bureau issued new rules for classifying staff who were suddenly working remotely, as well as payroll reporting for staff who were at home but not working. The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) rules that are set…
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CMS Issues New Rules Barring Surprising Billing

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service in late June released a series of new regulations targeted at banning surprise billing in most instances, taking aim at a scourge that ends up costing many covered individuals thousands of dollars even when they are treated in-network. The goal of the rule, slated to take effect Jan. 1, 2022, is to ensure that health plan enrollees are not gouged for out-of-network billing and balance billing for most services unless divulged to the beneficiary and approved by them in advance. Balance billing ― when a medical provider bills a covered individual for the…
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Cal/OSHA Relaxes COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard

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CAL/OSHA last November issued COVID-19 emergency temporary standards, and now the agency has revised those standards to reflect the reduced risk of infection as more people get vaccinated. The revisions provide respite to many businesses ahead of the planned reopening of the state on June 15. Here are the more significant changes in the rules: Exemptions for the vaccinated The revised rules provide significant exemptions to COVID-19 prevention rules for workers who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, as well as for workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days and have recovered or are…
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New Changes to X-Mods, Classification Rules for Multiple Location Employers

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California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has approved a regulatory filing that will change the premium threshold for employers to qualify for an experience modifier (X-Mod). The approval was part of a larger regulatory filing the Workers’ Compensation Rating Bureau made to also change expected claims costs, eliminate a few class codes and make new rules for companies that operate multiple enterprises. The newly approved filing also updates expected claims cost rates for all of the state’s more than 500 worker class codes that are used to calculate workers’ comp rates. Here’s a rundown of the changes: X-Mod change Currently, the…
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Second CalSavers Deadline Fast Approaching

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The deadline is fast approaching for employers with 50 or more staff in California, and who do not already offer their employees a retirement plan, to register for the CalSavers Retirement Savings Program. As of April 7, more than 10,000 employers had already registered for the program, which will allow employees to set aside a set amount pre-tax from their paychecks into the state-run retirement plan. Only California employers that do not offer retirement plans are required to register for CalSavers and there are different registration deadlines depending on employer size, staggered over a few years as follows: Employers with…
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Pandemic Brings Voluntary Benefits to Fore

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One major repercussion of the COVID-19 pandemic is that employees are embracing the voluntary benefits their employers are offering them, but they’d like to see more choices and issues such as mental health and voluntary benefits have risen to the fore. The Hartford’s “2021 Future of Benefits Study” found that before the pandemic, benefits were mainly viewed as a means of attracting and retaining talent. But the pandemic changed all that due to the stress of having our work and personal lives upended, as well as the widespread suffering and grief that the coronavirus has caused. The most significant shift…
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Group Health Plans Must Cover COVID-19 Testing for Asymptomatic People

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced in late February that private group health plans cannot deny coverage or impose cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing, regardless of whether or not the patient is experiencing symptoms or has been exposed to someone with the disease. The CMS said it had issued the new guidance to make it easier for people to get tested with no out-of-pocket costs if they are planning to visit family members or take a flight, for example. Up until now, some health plans have not covered testing if a person is not experiencing symptoms or has not…
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IRS Lets Employers Give Workers a Break on FSA Contributions, Health Plan Rules

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

A number of changes in recent months have given employees extra benefits and flexibility when it comes to utilizing Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). The newly signed American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 raised FSA contribution limits and the COVID relief bill signed in late 2020 gave employees additional flexibility in the use of funds and making election changes. The IRS recently released additional guidance, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, that allows employees to make changes to their health plans outside of the traditional open enrollment period. The COVID relief bill signed into law at…
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Insurers Expected COVID-19 Workers’ Comp Surge; It Never Came

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

The number of COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims submit to carriers has not been as widespread as insurers and ratings agencies around the country had predicted when the pandemic first started in early 2020. On top of that, a large chunk of COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims filed by workers nationwide have been rejected, with insurers often citing lack of proof that the illness was contracted in the workplace. These two factors have lead to a much lower surge of claim payouts than expected. The insurance industry was bracing for a deluge of workers’ comp claims when the seriousness of the pandemic…
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Employment-Related Lawsuits Explode during Pandemic

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow, so does the number of employment-related lawsuits filed by workers across the country against their employers. The pandemic laid the groundwork for new local, state and federal laws and regulations governing a number of workplace issues like workplace safety, family and medical leave and remote work. And it created new challenges for employers who were forced to close operations, lay off and furlough workers and organize new work arrangements. Most common employment-related lawsuits The surge resulted in a record number of COVID-19-related class-action lawsuits, the majority of them concerning disputes over:…
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