New York State Establishes Emergency Grant Program for Essential Workers

If you are an essential worker, first responder, or healthcare worker, you may be eligible for New York State’s Empire Pandemic Response Reimbursement Fund. Announced on March 6, 2021, the Fund was designed to help eligible essential workers who responded to the public health emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic and are in financial need. Up…

If You Received Unemployment Benefits in 2020, You May Be Entitled to a Tax Break

In March 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law an economic stimulus bill called the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”). The law includes a special federal tax break for workers who received unemployment benefits in 2020: the first $10,200 ($20,400 if married and filing jointly) of unemployment compensation is not taxable. This benefit applies to…

There’s Still Time to Buy Health Coverage – And It May Be More Affordable

If you are considering purchasing health coverage (perhaps using your $1400 stimulus payment) but haven’t yet, you still have time. In addition, that coverage might be less expensive. The 2021 Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period to buy health coverage on the health insurance marketplace (also known as the exchanges) ended December 15, 2020….

Congress Extends A Lifeline To Troubled Pension Funds

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”) brings welcome news to multiemployer, union-sponsored defined benefit plans that have become insolvent or are in danger of becoming insolvent. See LR’s What You Need to Know Now here, which discussed the COBRA subsidy provisions of the ARPA. A defined benefit plan is the traditional form of…

Can’t Afford COBRA? Help Is on the Way (Temporarily)

Did you lose your job during the pandemic and previously had employer-sponsored health coverage? Well, paying for continued health coverage through COBRA is about to become affordable for workers, but only temporarily. Under COBRA, workers who lose job-based health coverage because of termination of employment (other than for gross misconduct) or reduction in hours, may…

What Does Your Health Plan Have to Cover? New Federal Guidance on COVID-19 Testing and Vaccines

Earlier What You Need To Know Now postings here and here explained that, under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and CARES Act, health plans are required to cover the cost of COVID-19 diagnostic testing and vaccination without any cost sharing (co-pays, deductibles, coinsurance).  On February 26, 2021, in accordance with President Biden’s COVID-19 Executive…

It’s Just a Loan: The Trump Administration’s Payroll Tax Cut

On September 1, 2020, the Trump administration’s executive order providing the option to defer payroll taxes went into effect. This order gave employers the option to defer payroll taxes for employees who earn less than $4,000 per every two weeks or less than $104,000 per year, for the remainder of the year. Under this program,…

Update: Health Plans Must Continue to Cover the Full Cost of COVID-19 Testing

Our March 24, 2020, What You Need to Know Now examined the federal law requiring all group health plans to cover the full cost of COVID-19 testing free of charge and without any employee cost-sharing, including deductibles, copayments or coinsurance. In addition, the health plan cannot require prior authorization or impose other medical management requirements. This…