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Thursday, 07/29/21 Walt Podgurski 440-773-1108 E-Mail
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America's largest retailer will cover 100% of college tuition for its workers
By Nathaniel Meyersohn / CNN Business / / Read Article

Walmart will pay for full college tuition and book costs at some schools for its US workers, the latest effort by the largest private employer in the country to sweeten its benefits as it seeks to attract and retain talent in a tight job market.

The program includes 10 academic partners ranging from the University of Arizona to Southern New Hampshire University. Participants must remain part-time or full-time employees at Walmart to be eligible.
The company said Tuesday that it will drop a previous $1 a day fee paid by Walmart and Sam's Club workers who want to earn a degree and also begin covering the costs of their books. Around 28,000 workers participate in the program, which Walmart began in 2018. Walmart has around 1.5 million workers.

"We feel that eliminating the dollar a day investment removes the financial barriers to enrollment, and it will increase access," Lorraine Stomski, senior vice president of learning and leadership at Walmart (WMT), said on a call with reporters Tuesday.



Sign-up window for free COBRA coverage for many laid-off workers ends July 31
BY MICHELLE ANDREWS AND KAISER HEALTH NEWS / Fortune / / Read Article

After being laid off from her job as a systems analyst for a specialty chemicals company in December, Gabriela de Pompignan opted to hang on to her former employer’s insurance coverage under the federal law known as COBRA. Typically, laid-off workers pick up the total cost of premiums under COBRA, but her company paid roughly 75% of the expense for the first six months, leaving de Pompignan with a $659 monthly bill for the family plan covering her, her husband, and their 9-year-old son.

Since both de Pompignan and her husband, a lawyer, were unemployed, her company’s temporary financial support was crucial to making their premiums affordable. What de Pompignan didn’t realize, however, was that she was eligible for an even better deal. Under the American Rescue Plan Act that President Joe Biden signed in March, COBRA premiums for laid-off workers are covered in full by federal funding for six months from April through September.

Neither her former employer nor the company administering COBRA benefits for her workplace told her about that option.

Under federal rules, she should have been sent a notice by May 31 informing her about the subsidy, which is generally available to people who were involuntarily laid off or whose hours were reduced and who are eligible for continued employer coverage under COBRA.



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Stimulus checks and child tax credit payments help prompt calls to expand another credit benefitting workers
Lorie Konish / CNBC / / Read Article

KEY POINTS

The earned income tax credit gives low- and moderate- income workers a tax break.

For 2021, that credit was expanded to help workers of all ages and those without children.

Now there are calls to make the break more generous for a longer period of time.



Deadline coming on WA long-term care: private or state plan?
By RACHEL LA CORTE / (AP)  / / Read Article

Two years ago, Washington became the first state in the nation to establish a defined benefit to help offset the costs of long-term care. Now, workers have just a few months to decide whether they want to buy a private plan and opt out of the state-managed program before a payroll deduction hits their paychecks starting in January.

Under the program, called WA Cares Fund, workers will pay a premium of .58% of total pay per paycheck, meaning an employee with a salary of $50,000 will pay $290 a year. Starting Jan. 1, 2025, people who need assistance with at least three “activities of daily living” such as bathing, dressing or administration of medication, can tap into the fund to pay for things like in-home care, home modifications like a wheelchair ramp and rides to the doctor. The benefit also covers home-delivered meals, and reimbursement to unpaid family caregivers. The lifetime maximum of the benefit is $36,500, with annual increases to be determined based on inflation.






430 groups demand Congressional action on permanently expanding telehealth flexibilities
by Robert King / FIERCE Healthcare / / Read Article

More than 400 advocacy groups are calling for Congress to act quickly to permanently expand flexibilities for telehealth that could go away after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency expected to run through 2021.

The 430 groups sent a letter to congressional leadership on Monday underscoring the urgency for action now amid concerns from providers that expanded telehealth access could expire abruptly after the emergency ends.

At the onset of the pandemic, the Department of Health and Human Services removed several barriers to telehealth reimbursement under Medicare. The move helped fuel a massive explosion in telehealth use among providers as patients were afraid to get care for fear of contracting COVID-19.

But it remains unclear when Congress could act on the issue, such as whether the fix is included in a major infrastructure push being negotiated now or during an end-of-year spending package.



Some states forced to restore $300 unemployment benefits after jobless Americans sue
Maryland, Indiana ordered by judges to reinstate $300-a-week unemployment benefit
By Megan Henney / FOXBusiness / / Read Article

A growing number of jobless Americans are filing lawsuits against their respective states seeking to restore a pandemic relief program that paid out an extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits – and some are winning.

Judges in Maryland and Indiana have ruled the two states must resume paying the extra jobless aid that had been halted earlier this year until the lawsuits are resolved. The rulings mean that roughly 500,000 unemployed workers in those states should see a continuance of their benefits, according to an estimate from the National Employment Law Project (NELP).







Spain’s Cobee raises €14M in a round led by Balderton Capital to grow its employee benefits management platform
Silicon Canals / / Read Article

Recently, Cobee raised €14M funding in a Series A round led by European venture capital firm Balderton Capital. Other investors, including SpeedInvest, Target Global, Encomenda, and Lanai, as well as angels from Zalando, N26, Uber, and Gympass, also participated.

Improving employee wellbeing

Founded by Borja Aranguren, Daniel Olea, and Nacho Travesí in 2018, Cobee is on a mission to improve employee wellbeing. The platform brings a wide range of benefits for staff from gyms, to insurance products, perks, and vouchers, all in one app.

Notably, staff can redeem these benefits through a Cobee card, allowing them to track the monetary benefit they receive, as well as improving engagement rates and employee satisfaction.

The company eliminate intermediaries and external suppliers of each of the benefits, thus reducing costs and improve service quality for companies and employees,



How to Develop a COVID-19 Employee Vaccination Policy
A 7-step process can help employers decide whether to mandate vaccinations
By Susan M. Miller, Robert A. Phillips, Roberta L. Schwartz, H. Dirk Sostman, Carole Hackett, and Marc L. Boom / SHRM / / Read Article

Employers grappling with the issue of whether to require their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as well as other infectious diseases may benefit from the process that Houston Methodist, an academic medical center comprising eight hospitals in Houston, used to make that decision.



Hilb Group Acquires MillBrook Benefits and Insurance Services, LLC, Expands New England Presence
PRNewswire / INSIDE NOVA / / Read Article

The Hilb Group announced today that it has acquired Massachusetts-based MillBrook Benefits and Insurance Services, LLC, strengthening its presence throughout New England.

Based in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, MillBrook specializes in customized benefits solutions for businesses and their employees. Agency Principal Pete Miller and his team of insurance professionals will be joining Hilb Group's New England regional operations.



Ameritas Joins PlanSource Boost Program to Elevate the Employee Benefits Experience
GLOBE NEWSWIRE / / Read Article

PlanSource, a leading provider of cloud-based benefits technology, announced today that Ameritas, an insurance, employee benefits and financial services company, has joined PlanSource Boost, an innovative program that provides organizations with industry-leading benefits technology and real-time API integrations that modernize the benefits experience for employees and HR teams.




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Archives
 
Monday, 07/26/21 - - Three Ways Insurance Brokers Can Use Technology To Help Small-Business Clients

Tuesday, 07/27/21 - - Insurance brokers Aon and Willis Towers Watson scrap their $30 billion merger

Wednesday, 07/28/21 - -
Walmart Is Rapidly Expanding Its Presence In Healthcare

Thursday, 07/22/21 - - 
Gig Workers Paying 54% Less For Health Insurance, New Data Shows

Friday, 07/23/21 - -
Empower to buy 4,300 retirement plans from Prudential in deal worth $3.55 billion

 
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Editorial Mission Statement: The goal of this publication is to provide readers a broad selection of what is being written about the insurance industry and related issues. Some articles may have a “tilt” towards a particular perspective one way or another. Inclusion in this newsletter is not an endorsement of any views or content; but report the various and differing views appearing in media.