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IRS Issues Guidance Relating to High Deductible Health Plans and Coronavirus Testing

In response to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS has released guidance in Notice 2020-15 relating to the testing and treatment for individuals covered by a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).

Under normal circumstances, an HDHP will fail to satisfy the requirements of an HDHP if it provides coverage for testing or treatment before the annual minimum deductible has been met (subject to certain enumerated well-known exceptions for wellness and preventative care). A plan disqualification would prohibit participants in the HDHP from making contributions to their Health Savings Account as HSAs require coverage by an HDHP.

The Notice provides that an HDHP will not fail to qualify as an HDHP “merely because the health plan provides medical care services and items purchased related to testing for and treatment of COVID-19 prior to the satisfaction of the applicable minimum deductible.” As a result, the fact that an individual is covered by an HDHP will not be impacted by free or reduced charges for testing and treatment of Coronavirus/COVID-19, regardless of whether or not they have met the deductible requirements under the HDHP.

While the IRS has chosen to provide this relief for both HDHPs and those individuals who receive their coverage through such a plan, this announcement has no impact on whether or not an insurance carrier will take any action regarding coverage for these items. Please contact your insurance carrier to determine what, if any, accommodation or arrangement they are making in light of the pandemic.

For questions on this topic or any other tax-related questions for your business, please contact Priscilla Grant at (330) 253-5934 or pagrant@bmdllc.com.

UPDATE: Governor Dewine Signs HB 606 Granting Short Window of Immunity from COVID-19 Personal Injury Lawsuits

The Ohio General Assembly, in Am. Sub. H.B. No. 606, is in the final stages of passing a law that will prohibit lawsuits seeking damages from COVID-19. This includes injury, death, or loss to person or property if the lawsuits are based, in whole or in part, on the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of the coronavirus, unless the defendant in the lawsuit acted intentionally or recklessly. In circumstances where this immunity does not apply, H.B. 606 prohibits such claims being aggregated and brought as a class action.

Revised Department of Labor FFCRA Guidance, Effective September 16, 2020

In response to attacks on the legality of the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule regarding the Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”), which took effect in April 2020, the Department of Labor issued new guidance on Friday, September 11th to formally address ongoing questions and concerns related to the COVID-19 legislation.

FCC Adds $198 Million to Strengthen Telehealth for Rural Healthcare Providers

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has added an additional $198 million in funding to its Rural Health Care Program. These funds will be used to increase broadband services and telecommunications to bolster telehealth/telemedicine services for rural healthcare providers. Funding for rural healthcare providers was initially capped at $605 million in 2020, but the added funds will now allow the FCC to provide over $800 million to eligible providers.

Finding Opportunity in Adversity: Optimism for the Construction Industry

Looking for good news? If so, you are not alone. Aside from the collective mental, physical and emotional human toll imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, entire sectors of the economy have been ravaged, and old, familiar ways of doing business have been disrupted. Although deemed essential, the construction industry has not been immune to interruption and uncertainty during these unprecedented times. Amid new health and safety concerns, coupled with financial uncertainty, progress on projects has slowed, and the start dates for a number of new projects slated to begin in 2020 have been deferred. However, resilience has always been a trademark of contractors, subcontractors and other industry professionals. Reports indicate that while the construction industry lost more than one million jobs February through April, at least 600,000 of those jobs had been gained back by the end of June.

Yard Sign Do’s and Don’ts: How to Avoid Legal Challenges to Municipal Sign Codes this Election Season

As the nation heads into the tail end of the 2020 general election, municipalities will inevitably face challenges as they seek to regulate the seasonal proliferation of yard signs on residential property. While the matter may seem trifling, a seemingly benign yet content-based sign ordinance can result in significant legal exposure for municipalities that have not heeded recent Supreme Court decisions on content neutrality.