The Rundown on the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2021
The CAA bill has been the talk of the town for a while now. It’s been in the news for the $900 billion stimulus package designed originally to provide aid for the pandemic-pandemonium, which is now extended to fund a bunch of other projects from agriculture to gender issues.
One aspect of these provisions relate to health care and it’s the only one that we’re going to expand for you. For the rest of the provisions, click here.
Here’s a brief summary on how the CAA bill impacts you as an employer, group plan sponsors, and health care providers in New York:
1.Extensions for Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) -
For plans ending in 2020 and 2021, employers are allowed to extend the grace period to a full year after the plan period ends, along with allowing employees to carry over their unused amounts into the next plan year.
2. No surprise medical billing -
There’s a new sheriff in town, and he’s called the No Surprises Act. This ruling prohibits doctors, hospitals, and ambulances from billing covered patients for unpaid balances. Instead, healthcare providers will have to consult with the insurers to figure out the details of payment under the health plans.
3. Increased health care transparency -
The CAA takes note of the growth of consumer healthcare knowledge in 3 effective ways. First, by banning the “gag clauses” between healthcare providers and health plans that prevent the free availability of healthcare cost and quality information. Secondly, by mandating brokers and consultants to disclose their fee structures and commission mechanisms. Third, group health plans must report all costs and prescription drug spending.
4. Improving mental health parity law compliance -
Mental health parity refers to the equal treatment of all mental health conditions and substance abuse under health plans. The CAA empowers the enforcement of existing mental health parity laws, and increases the availability of information relating to how health plans apply these laws.
5. Reducing termination of retirement plans -
The CAA modifies the current partial plan termination rules to ensure that termination does not occur if the active participant count as of March 31, 2021, is at least 80% of the number of active participants covered by the plan on March 31, 2020. The CAA also provides an exception to the 10% early retirement plan withdrawal penalty for qualified disaster relief distributions.
Several government and non-government agencies are reaching out and providing resources and aid to those impacted by the consequences of the pandemic. For instance, NY Small Health works closely with United Health Care, the country’s No. 1 insurance carrier, which is offering over $1.5 billion worth of support, telehealth services, and COVID-19 testing/treatment coverage to its customers.
To find out more on what plans and benefits your small business requires, contact the insurance experts at NY Small Health.