Like most of you, our email inboxes are filled with information, updates and webinar invitations to stay updated on COVID-19. We don’t want to duplicate any information you are already getting from within your own network of advisors, HR organizations, subscription services, etc. Many of you are also relying on state and federal government sites, SHRM, Associated Industries of MA (AIM), all of our health plans, and media organizations such as BenefitsPro – all good information to have on hand.
We want to remind you that MassAHU is also a resource you can rely on. Just email us at email@example.com and ask away. We will share what we know, direct you to sources of information you need, or give you suggestions based on our own individual experiences. One of the greatest benefits of membership in MassAHU is the ability to leverage the connections we have within our network of benefits specialists.
On a national level, NAHU is providing support to members with Compliance Corner webinars, podcasts, and reference links to federal agencies, etc. The next Compliance Corner broadcast is on April 1st at 1 pm. Register for this webinar HERE. Additional resources and recordings of previous events can be accessed by signing into the members-only section at www.nahu.org.
Follow MassAHU on LinkedIn
Also, please take a minute to look us up on LinkedIn, and ‘follow’ MassAHU. During this time of social distancing, digital connections are ever more important. We will be using LinkedIn to communicate and share information with you as an enhancement to our monthly email updates. You can find us HERE.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
With passage of this law on March 18th, implementation for providing paid family leave and sick leave to employees impacted by the Coronavirus is slated for April 1, 2020. Attorney Richard Szczebak outlines the provisions of FFCRA in his March monthly Compliance Update for MassAHU: A QUICK START GUIDE TO THE FAMILY FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT FOR BROKERS
Additionally, we are sharing DOL resources on FFCRA. The Fact Sheet for Employees, Fact Sheet for Employers and Questions and Answers address critical questions, such as how an employer must count the number of their employees to determine coverage; how small businesses can obtain an exemption; how to count hours for part-time employees; and how to calculate the wages employees are entitled to under this law.
Request for Premium Assistance for Employer Health Insurance Payments
MassAHU joined with MA-based health plans represented by the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans (MAHP) and Blue Cross, AIM, NFIB, and other business and industry groups to ask Congress to earmark specific dollars for premium assistance within the economic stimulus package for employers. While the economic stimulus package is expected to pass without specifically addressing this need, we will continue to work on behalf of our employer clients to address the loss of health insurance as employers struggle to keep their businesses afloat and their employees on payroll/benefits through forced closings.
MassAHU President Matt Shadrick and board members also met by teleconference with MAHP to raise concerns for health plan renewals coming in from the health plans on a ‘business as usual’ basis. Many employers are dangerously near closing their doors and laying off some or all of their staff, and any solutions we can offer require the collaborative help of federal and state governments, but also the health insurance industry.
Merged Market Advisory Council (MMAC)
So much of our usual operations and business focus have been overshadowed by COVID-19 that it’s easy to put aside other important but less urgent projects. The Merged Market Advisory Council is still charged with making recommendations to the Governor by April 30th to address the sustainability and affordability of health insurance in the Massachusetts merged market. MassAHU’s legislative team and board members are working on a document to outline the principles we feel need to be reflected in any changes to the merged market going forward.
Some of you may find that you have a little more time in the office during this period of social distancing. If you’d like to help us prepare our recommendations to the MMAC, or help with other legislative issues which we will need to respond to in this 2019-2020 legislative session, including behavioral health reform, please email Joe Lawler, our state legislative chair.
Plans for Benefest 2020 were going well until we hit the pandemic… we had just confirmed our keynote speaker and were lining up sponsors and exhibitors when we made a decision to postpone our annual conference till the fall. Well, we have good news on that front. We’ve secured the Doubletree Hotel for a new date in September, and we’ve received word that our keynote speaker is able to come on that date. So mark your calendars and let’s look forward to meeting up IN PERSON on Tuesday, September 29th.
We know you will want to meet Avik Roy and hear his perspective on healthcare and the economy. The rest of our programming will be evolving as we see what comes out of the MMAC, the FY2021 budget, impact of COVID-19 on healthcare and healthcare financing, and of course, the approach to our presidential election.
The federal government defines our profession as “Essential Services” so be proud that you ARE playing an important role in helping your employer clients and their employees. Thank you for representing our profession so selflessly during this time, but don’t take any unnecessary risks to yourself and your loved ones.
We know you may be suffering a loss of income even as you put time and expense into helping others. Hopefully we will see a strong return to economic health in the near future to the benefit of our clients and our own business. Until then, be smart, stay well, and take time to enjoy your family and a little downtime for yourself.