Client Alerts, News Articles & Blog Posts

Everything you need to know about BMD and the industry.

America’s New COVID-19 Relief Package — Unpacked

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the highly anticipated American Rescue Plan Act (the “Act”) into law, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill aimed at addressing and resolving many of the lingering questions and concerns following the expiration of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) on December 31, 2020.

Among the most notable provisions of the Act include the following:

FFCRA Tax Credit Extension | While employers are no longer mandated to provide paid sick leave to covered employees under the FFCRA, the Act grants an extension to the government tax credit previously provided to employers under the FFCRA if an employer elects to continue such paid time off to its employees. This tax credit remains available through September 2021 for employers with fewer than 500 employees. In addition, the Act now gives paid family leave for 12 weeks, instead of 10 weeks, ultimately providing an employee 14 weeks of paid leave when including the paid sick leave. Finally, the Act resets an employee’s FFCRA availability beginning on April 1, 2021. Meaning, any FFCRA time used before April 1, 2021 will not count against the employee’s leave entitlement after April 1, 2021.

COBRA Coverage | Also through September 2021, the federal government will subsidize the entirety of COBRA premiums for employees (and their covered family members) facing layoffs, ensuring health insurance coverage despite COVID unemployment concerns.

Unemployment Benefits | Prior to the passage of the Act, the weekly $300 unemployment supplement was set to expire in mid-March; however, now, these supplemental payments have been extended through September 6, 2021 — the first $10,200 of which will be tax-free for households earning up to $150,000. The Act additionally provides new protections for self-employed workers otherwise uncovered by state benefits.

Based on the changes to the FFCRA and the increased availability of vaccines, we recommend that clients consider revoking their FFCRA leave policies to avoid renewed employee eligibility for paid leave, including increased paid family leave for 12 weeks. If employers continue to provide paid leave under the FFCRA, they will remain eligible for payroll tax credits, up to the permitted maximums, for eligible leave time, through September 30, 2021.

As businesses across the country witnessed firsthand last year, federal and state legislation related to the COVID-19 pandemic is ever-evolving and requires a watchful eye to remain in the know. For more information on any of the above-provisions or for any questions related to the American Rescue Plan Act, please contact BMD Labor and Employment Partner Bryan Meek at bmeek@bmdllc.com or 330.253.5586.

Thank you to Monica Andress for her assistance drafting this Client Alert.

COVID, Privacy and More! New Challenges for Physicians in 2021

While hopefully we are coming out of the pandemic, the legal repercussions related to legislative initiatives and other actions during that time continue to apply to businesses in general and healthcare practices. It is a helpful reminder that practices make certain that they maintain accurate records in order to satisfy the reporting requirements under the various COVID-related bills and protect yourself from future employment claims.

Banking and Cannabis: Bank Lending, The Next Frontier

A fortuitous combination of developments and circumstances present the banking and cannabis industries a large opportunity to enhance each of their respective bottom lines: conventional bank lending, payment processing, treasury management and other services, and bank administered SBA and revenue bond financing to cannabis businesses.

EKRA Updates: COVID-19 Testing, Employment Agreements, and More

Ever since the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act (“EKRA”) was passed by Congress in 2018, we have been waiting to see how the law is interpreted and ultimately enforced. As a reminder, EKRA seeks to eliminate kickbacks in return for patient referrals to facilities that treat those overcoming addiction, such as recovery homes, clinical treatment centers, and laboratories. (NOTE: EKRA applies to all laboratories, not just those related to addiction treatment.) It is essentially an expansion of the Anti-Kickback Statute, which only applies to those services that are reimbursable through federal healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, to now also cover services reimbursable through private insurers.

New Interpretation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Rocks the Industry

It’s not lost on us that our interpretation of § 1692c(b) runs the risk of upsetting the status quo in the debt-collection industry. This quote from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal in its April 21, 2021 opinion from the case of Hunstein v. Preferred Collection and Management Services, Inc. is possibly the biggest understatement in the history of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. At a minimum, the Eleventh Circuit’s opinion has sent shockwaves and fear throughout multiple sectors of the financial services industry.

Construction Industry Trends and Predictions Through 2021 and Beyond: Insurance and Emerging Threats

A 2021 survey identified three key issues impacting the construction industry in 2021: (1) the financial health of contractors; (2) the continuing risk of the pandemic; and (3) technology driving productivity, but also increasing the risk of cybersecurity threats. With this backdrop, insurance premiums in the construction industry are generally on the rise in 2021.