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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.

New York, Kansas, Massachusetts, and Delaware Become the latest States to Adopt Full Practice Authority for Nurse Practitioners

While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly created many obstacles and hardships, it also created many opportunities to try doing things differently. This can be seen in the instant rise of remote work opportunities, telehealth visits, and virtual meetings. Many States took the challenges of the pandemic and turned them into an opportunity to adjust the regulations governing licensed professionals, including for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

Explosive Growth in Pot of Gold Opportunity for Bank (and Other) Cannabis Lenders Driving Erosion of the Barriers

Our original article on bank lending to the cannabis industry anticipated that the convergence of interest between banks and the cannabis industry would draw more and larger banks to the industry. Banks were awash in liquidity with limited deployment options, while bankable cannabis businesses had rapidly growing needs for more and lower cost credit. Since then, the pot of gold opportunity for banks to lend into the cannabis industry has grown exponentially due to a combination of market constraints on equity causing a dramatic shift to debt and the ever-increasing capital needs of one of the country’s fastest growing industries. At the same time, hurdles to entry of new banks are being systematically cleared as the yellow brick road to the cannabis industry’s access to the financial markets is being paved, brick by brick, by the progressively increasing number and size of banks that are now entering the market.

2021 EEOC Charge Statistics: Retaliation & Impact of Remote Work

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its detailed information on workplace discrimination charges it received in 2021. Unsurprisingly, for the second year in a row, the total number of charges decreased as COVID-19 either shut down workplaces or disconnected employees from each other. In 2021, the agency received a total of approximately 61,000 workplace discrimination charges - the fewest in 25 years by a wide margin. For reference, the agency received over 67,000 charges in 2020, and averaged almost 90,000 charges per year over the previous 10 years.

Ohio’s Managed Care Overhaul Delayed – New Implementation Timeline

At the direction of Governor Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) launched the Medicaid Managed Care Procurement process in 2019. ODM’s stated vision for the procurement was to focus on people and not just the business of managed care. This is the first structural change to Ohio’s managed care system since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) approval of Ohio’s Medicaid program in 2005. Initially, all of the new managed care programs were supposed to be implemented starting on July 1, 2022. However, ODM Director Maureen Corcoran recently confirmed that this date will be pushed back for several managed care-related programs.

Laboratory Specimen Collection Arrangements with Contract Hospitals - OIG Advisory Opinion 22-09

On April 28, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) published an Advisory Opinion[1] in which it evaluated a proposed arrangement where a network of clinical laboratories (the “Requestor”) would compensate hospitals (each a “Contract Hospital”) for specimen collection, processing, and handling services (“Collection Services”) for laboratory tests furnished by the Requestor (the “Proposed Arrangement”). The OIG concluded that the Proposed Arrangement would generate prohibited remuneration under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) if the requisite intent were present. This is due to both the possibility that the proposed per-patient-encounter fee would be used to induce or reward referrals to Requestor and the associated risk of improperly steering patients to Requestor.