Agencies Issue No Surprises Act and Transparency Rule FAQ
On Aug. 20, 2021, the Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Treasury (Departments) issued frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the implementation of the No Surprises Act and transparency provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA).
In particular, the Departments will defer enforcement of the rules regarding:
- Publishing transparency in coverage machine-readable files related to prescription drug pricing (pending further rulemaking);
- Publishing other types of machine-readable files (until July 1, 2022);
- Providing a price comparison tool (until Jan. 1, 2023);
- Providing a good faith estimate of expected charges and Advanced Explanation of Benefits to certain individuals (pending further rulemaking); and
- Reporting of pharmacy benefit and drug costs (pending further rulemaking).
The Departments plan to issue future regulations on the interaction of the CAA and the transparency in coverage final rules as well as the provider directory and continuity of care requirements. Regulations may not be issued until after Jan. 1, 2022. Until then, plans and issuers are expected to use good faith, reasonable interpretations of the statute.
They do not expect to issue regulations on provisions prohibiting gag clauses or balance billing disclosure requirements. Plans and issuers are expected to use good faith, reasonable interpretations of the statutory requirements.
The Departments also provided an example of a plan or insurance identification card that would be compliant with the transparency requirements for those cards and clarified that grandfathered health plans are generally subject to the CAA’s requirements.
Delta Air Lines Imposes $200 Monthly Health Insurance Surcharge on Unvaccinated Workers
On Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, Delta Air Lines announced it will require employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or pay a $200 monthly fee.
Starting Nov. 1, 2021, unvaccinated employees on Delta Air Lines’ health plan would be responsible for paying a $200 monthly surcharge for health benefits, in addition to being tested weekly for COVID-19. Unvaccinated workers will undergo weekly testing beginning mid-September, according to the company.
Delta Air Lines’ CEO, Ed Bastian, said the company acknowledges that vaccinations are the “most effective” way to combat the spread of COVID-19—75 percent of the organization is fully vaccinated. Moreover, Bastian said it costs Delta Air Lines $50,000 per employee hospital stay due to COVID-19. The $200 surcharge is intended to both offset those costs and incentivize employees to get vaccinated.
This move by Delta Air Lines comes soon after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was fully approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration. With full approval, more companies are beginning to reassess their vaccine policies.
United Airlines, for instance, announced that it will now require its U.S.-based employees to be vaccinated—Goldman Sachs and Google have also announced similar plans.
With a fully approved vaccine on the market, employers can expect more organizations to push for higher vaccination rates among their workforces. Even the federal government recently announced a vaccine requirement among its employees and contractors.
Businesses are having to weigh the value of COVID-19 vaccines and uninterrupted operations against employee uncertainty and vaccine reluctance. The solution won’t always be as easy an introducing a mandate, however. Organizations are recommended to evaluate vaccination policies in light of their own unique circumstance.
EEOC Extends EEO-1 Deadline for 2019 and 2020 Data to Oct. 25
Employers now have even more extra time to submit equal employment opportunity (EEO-1) workforce data from 2019 and 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced on Aug. 18, 2021.
The 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 reports were previously due by Aug. 23, 2021, which was an extension from the original deadline of July 19, 2021. Employers now have until Oct. 25, 2021, to complete their submissions. According to the EEOC, this new deadline is final, and no additional extensions will be made.
The EEOC’s collection of the 2019 and 2020 data, the portal for which opened on April 26, 2021, had previously been delayed numerous other times due to COVID-19. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the EEO-1 Report is usually due by March 31 every year.
Employers subject to EEO-1 reporting requirements should ensure that they complete their EEO-1 submissions by Oct. 25, 2021. These employers should also review the EEOC’s home page and website dedicated to EEO data collections for additional information.
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