Benefit Insider

The Benefits Insider is a bimonthly member exclusive publication prepared for WorldatWork members by the American Benefits Council(“the Council”), a premiere benefits advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. This newsletter provides the latest news and analysis on the most important benefits-related policy matters in Congress, executive branch agencies and the federal judiciary.

Please note: any views or opinions expressed in these stories represent the advocacy positions of the American Benefits Council and its membership. They do not necessarily reflect the views of WorldatWorkor its membership. To inquire about membership with the American Benefits Council, contact Deanna Johnson at (202) 289-6700 or


April 1, 2021 (covering news from March 15-31, 2021)

The American Benefits Council submitted a letter to the Departments of Labor, Treasury and Health and Human Services requesting guidance urgently needed to implement the COBRA subsidy provisions included in the recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rejects ERISA preemption argument and upholds state health law.

February 15, 2021 (covering news from February 1-15, 2021)

Topics include coverage of a legislative package pursued under Democratic control of Congress will be a budget reconciliation bill focused on pandemic relief. With Congress already working on a comprehensive budget reconciliation bill including numerous pandemic relief provisions, the American Benefits Council is urging lawmakers, through numerous conversations and formal communications, to provide ongoing and additional support to employer health plan sponsors.

February 1, 2021 (covering news from January 5-31, 2021)

Biden administration begins with a flurry of Executive activity; recent rules under review include ESG investment regulations. Biden pandemic relief proposal includes COBRA subsidies and paid leave provisions.

January 5 2021 (covering news from December 15, 2020 - January 4, 2021)

Congress Reaches Agreement on Government Funding, Pandemic Relief Legislation; Includes Several Health, Retirement Policy Provisions. Multiple Retirement Policy Bills Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, Council Anticipates Increased Activity in the New Year.

December 15, 2020 (covering news from December 1-14, 2020)

The U.S. Congress has passed a one-week extension of government funding, averting a shutdown and likely leaving one more week for the Council to advocate for numerous benefits policy priorities before the congressional session ends. The Senate Finance Committee Hears Recommendations for Improving Retirement Security. PBGC Annual Report Reveals Increased Single-Employer Surplus, Underfunded Multiemployer Program.

December 1, 2020 (covering news from November 16-30, 2020)

The U.S. Treasury Department and IRS recently released the 2020-2021 Priority Guidance Plan outlining their anticipated regulatory projects during the 12-month period from July 2020 through June 2021. The Council Congress considers additional COVID-19 relief legislation and urging congressional action to stabilize single-employer pension plan funding before the end of the year.

November 16, 2020 (covering news from November 3-5, 2020)

The IRS updates RMD tables for retirement plans. The IRS has released guidance and a request for comments implementing the new provision permitting 403(b)(7) custodial accounts to be distributed in kind to participants and beneficiaries when their plan is terminated.

November 4, 2020 (covering news from October 17- November 3, 2020)

A comprehensive bipartisan retirement policy legislation introduced in House of Representatives. Executive branch agencies finalize price transparency rules for group health plans. The Trump administration issued interim final regulations for numerous issues related to the eventual COVID-19 vaccine and testing for COVID-19.

October 16, 2020 (covering news from October 1-16, 2020)

The IRS issued a notice on October 2, providing relief from some of the Affordable Care Act’s information reporting requirements for health insurers and employers for 2020. The notice is welcome news in that it extends relief provided in prior years though it indicates that this is the last year relief will be provided.

October 1, 2020 (covering news from September 16-September 30, 2020)

Guidance finalized on 2021 tax withholding, giving the IRS additional flexibility. The DOL proposed a new rule modifying determination of independent contractors, updating the standards for determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

September 16, 2020 (covering news from August 25-September 15, 2020)

The IRS has issued guidance on certain provisions of the SECURE Act retirement plan provisions. Proposed EBSA rule on proxy voting highlights economic factors for plan fiduciaries. The IRS allows amended determination letter requests for statutory hybrid plans.

August 24, 2020 (covering news from August 4-24, 2020)

The Senate Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management held a hearing in which lawmakers examined federal policies regarding remote work and its challenges. The IRS issues additional guidance on CARES Act retirement provisions.

August 3, 2020 (covering news from July 17 – August 3, 2020)

Multiple employer groups encourage federal funding support for COVID-19 testing. DOL seeks input on state paid leave Laws. The U.S. President issues executive orders on drug prices, including prescription drug rebates.

July 16, 2020 (covering news from July 2 - 16, 2020)

Polling data shows strong support for additional financial assistance for COBRA coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. departments of Labor, Treasury and Health and Human Services issued proposed regulations modifying certain aspects of the current rules regarding loss of grandfathered plan status under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

July 1, 2020 (covering news from June 17 – July 1, 2020)

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has issued new fiduciary standards for providers of investment advice, including a summary of the regulatory package. The IRS issues guidance on mid-year reductions and relief for Safe Harbor plans.

June 16, 2020 (covering news from June 2 - 16, 2020)

The EEOC votes to approve a wellness proposal under the ADA. An overview of the efforts at the state level to expand retirement coverage in ways that would burden existing employer-sponsored plans or impose alternative rules on retirement plans.

June 1, 2020 (covering news from May 19 - June 1, 2020)

The IRS Releases 2021 Indexed Amounts for HSAs, HDHPs and includes a table listing out the current 2020 amounts and the new 2021 amounts. The IRS also has temporarily extended a number of deadlines for certain employee benefits filings in light of the ongoing pandemic.

May 1, 2020 (covering news from April 17 – May 1, 2020)

Final regulations expanding electronic disclosure for retirement plans have been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), New IRS guidance permits electronic requests for private letter rulings, and other guidance.

April 16, 2020 (covering news from April 2 - 16, 2020)

Summary of IRS extensions on numerous deadlines as part of Coronavirus relief. An overview of the economic stimulus package and dealing with surprise medical billing of COVID-19 patients.

April 2, 2020 (covering news from March 19 - April 1, 2020)

This edition covers COVID-19 response legislation and a bill linking retirement contributions to student loan repayment that was introduced in the House. IRS extends certain retirement plan deadlines. Legislation introduced to protect lump-sum recipients.

March 18, 2020 (covering news from March 3 - March 18, 2020)

This edition includes a legislative update dealing with the coronavirus (COVID-19). A summary on the House passed COVID-19 response legislation. The Treasury and IRS issue guidance allowing HDHP’s to cover screening and treatment for COVID-19 pre-deductibles.

March 2, 2020 (Covering Feb 19- March 2, 2020)

This edition summarizes recent regulatory, legislative and judicial activity, including comments on new compensation rules under Section 162(m). The Know the Price Act (H.R. 6005), known as the health price transparency bill, was introduced in the House. The high court upholds ruling against plan sponsor in plan disclosure statute of limitations decision.

February 18, 2020 (covering news from February 4-18, 2020)

Some of the topics of this edition include: White House budget proposes PBGC multiemployer plan increases and parental leave benefit program, PBGC issues miscellaneous guidance for defined benefits plans and the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Labor and Ways and Means committees each approved separate legislative proposals to address "surprise" medical billing.

February 3, 2020 (ccovering news from January 16-31, 2020)

This edition covers recent regulatory, legislative and judicial activities. The (HHS) released the proposed Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters (NBPP) for 2021. An outline for federal paid leave legislation is submitted to House committee. Council Recommends Modifications to Health Price Transparency Proposed Regulation. The Council outlines principles for federal paid leave legislation and supports bipartisan bill to increase retirement plan cash-out limits.

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