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The Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service released new guidelines to benefit plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
MCPS-provided medical insurance plans are eliminating financial barriers for members to ensure that employees and their family members covered by an MCPS health insurance plan receive the medically necessary services to detect and treat COVID-19.
As a result of the new guidelines, the following changes are in effect until further notice:
The following claim-related deadlines are extended to exclude from the deadline period days from March 1, 2020 until 60 days after the end of the national emergency.
In addition, the following COBRA plan provisions also are similarly extended.
The Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service have released new guidelines affecting FSA elections. MCPS permanent employees who work a minimum of 20 hours a week in their permanent positions can enroll in medical and dependent care FSAs. New employees have 60 days from their date of hire to open an FSA. Employees who missed the enrollment deadline have another opportunity to open an FSA as a result of these changes. These elections are valid for the calendar year.
Employees planning to take advantage of these changes should take note of the following:
MCPS employees should submit a completed MCPS Form 450-3, Flexible Spending Account Calendar Year 2021 Election to make appropriate changes.
Two permanent changes have been made to Medical-FSA-eligible expenses under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The act was signed on March 27, 2020. Both changes are retroactive and effective for expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2020:
Benefit Strategies, the MCPS FSA administrator, is updating its system to ensure that FSA debit cards can be used to pay for the newly eligible expenses. In addition, individual merchants (drug stores, grocery stores, online retailers, etc. that accept FSA debit cards) will need to update their systems as well. These updates are expected to be completed by early summer, although some merchants may take longer. Until you are able to use the FSA card, you can use another form of payment for these items and submit a claim for reimbursement to Benefit Strategies through our secure online portal or mobile application, or by completing a Benefit Strategies claim form.
MCPS employees now have until December 31, 2020, to use their calendar year 2019 FSA balance(s). Per the original plan provisions, employees had until March 15, 2020, to use their 2019 funds. Employees have until March 15, 2021, to use their balance(s) from calendar year 2020.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) has established a new annual limits for pretax contributions to dependent care FSAs. The annual limits are increased to $10,500 (up from $5,000) for single taxpayers and married couples filing jointly and to $5,250 (up from $2,500) for married individuals filing separately.
The Internal Revenue Service has announced that masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes used to protect against COVID-19 now are considered eligible expenses under medical flexible spending account (FSA) plans. The addition of these Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) items to the list of FSA-eligible items is retroactive and effective for expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2020.
Employees and retirees may email or telephone ERSC at 301-517-8100 if they have specific questions regarding the impact of the changes to their specific situation. Comprehensive information regarding MCPS-provided health insurance plans is available on the Employee Benefits web page. Detailed information regarding FSAs, including a list of qualifying expenses also is available on the FSA web page.
Caremark/CVS Health is taking steps to care for our plan members and to help them adhere to their medications.
Relaxing Refill Restrictions
Caremark is waiving early refill limits on 30-day prescriptions for maintenance medications at any in-network pharmacy. Relaxing refill-too-soon limitations allows members to obtain maintenance medication prescriptions ahead of their normal fill schedule. This applies to all employee and retiree prescription plans. The 30-day early fill override is a temporary process in effect for the current COVID-19 emergency situation.
Members to Refill Maintenance Medications
We know that access to needed medication is important to you and your family members during the uncertainty caused by COVID-19. We strongly recommend you take action now for individuals who have long-term maintenance medications to refill eligible maintenance prescriptions for 90-day supplies.
MCPS has a 90-day prescription benefit for maintenance medications at CVS pharmacy and the option of home delivery from CVS Caremark mail service pharmacy with no delivery cost.
Free Home Delivery from CVS Pharmacy
Beginning immediately, CVS pharmacy will waive charges for home delivery of all prescription medications. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encouraging people at higher risk for COVID-19 complications to stay at home as much as possible, this is a convenient option to avoid coming to the pharmacy for refills or new maintenance prescriptions.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) provides for a 100 percent subsidy of COBRA premiums from April 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021 for Assistance Eligible Individuals (AEIs). To qualify, AEIs must have experienced a COBRA qualifying event other than a voluntary termination of employment. The subsidy is not available to people who voluntarily left their jobs.
Please note the following:
For further information, contact Benefit Strategies by telephone at 888-401-3539 or ERSC at 301-517-8100 or email ERSC.