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Unemployment fraud has plagued the entire country throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic. Each step seems to be a cat and mouse contest with state agencies and the criminals. Somehow, the hackers intercepted personal information such as email addresses and cell phone numbers. Therefore, the game has taken on a new level with scammers luring individuals to fake websites using text messages and emails.
With this new development, companies may again see an uptick in fraudulent claims overwhelming human resource departments, finance professionals, or anyone tasked with processing these claims. Many organizations turn to third party administrators to assist with the shear volume of processing claims and reconciling quarterly statements.
Here are some tips for this next game changing occurrence:
Please share this information with people you know. By sharing the information, you can help defeat the scammers.
On July 8, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it revised its National Emphasis Program (NEP) for COVID-19. OSHA launched the NEP on March 12, 2021, to focus on companies with the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting
COVID-19 and on employers that retaliate against employees who complain about unsafe or unhealthful conditions or exercise other rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The revised NEP:
For inspections in healthcare, the revised NEP refers compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) to the new directive, Inspection Procedures for the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard, issued on June 28, 2021.
Inspections in non-healthcare establishments will follow procedures outlined in the Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan (IERP) published July 7, 2021, it replaces the March 12, 2021 memorandum, and the updates include:
The IERPs goals are to identify exposures to COVID-19 hazards, ensure appropriate control measures are implemented, and address violations of OSHA standards (other than the ETS) and the General Duty Clause. The updated IERP will remain in effect until further notice and is intended to be time-limited to the current COVID-19 public health crisis.
The ETS became effective June 21, 2021. Healthcare employers must comply with most provisions by July 6, 2021, and with training, ventilation, and barrier provisions by July 21, 2021.
On July 9, 2021, President Joe Biden issued an executive order to promote competition in the American economy. As stated by the fact sheet, the order’s objectives include reducing the trend of corporate consolidation, increasing competition and delivering concrete benefits to America’s consumers, workers, farmers and small businesses.
The order directs over a dozen federal agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to look into unfair competition practices, including, among other things:
The executive order addresses competition in health care in four main areas:
Right now, large drug manufacturers enjoy incredible profits year over year. The White House alleges that this is due to lack of competition and “pay for delay” tactics, where name-brand drug manufacturers pay generic manufacturers to stay out of the market. Such strategies result in Americans paying 2.5 times more for the same medications as peer countries.
The executive order directs the Food and Drug Administration to work with states and tribes to safely import prescription drugs from Canada, where drugs are less expensive. It also directs the Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration to increase support for generic and biosimilar drugs. Additionally, the order encourages the FTC to ban “pay for delay” and similar agreements.
Currently, the White House points out, only 14% of Americans with hearing loss use hearing aids. The administration says it’s due to high prices, costing more than $5,000 per pair (typically not covered by insurance). Additionally, hearing aids can only be obtained after a medical analysis by a doctor or specialist—an unnecessary requirement, according to the Biden administration.
The executive order directs the HHS to consider issuing proposed rules within 120 days for allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter.
Hospitals have been consolidating through mergers for years, resulting in higher prices and fewer rural locations. The White House notes that consolidated hospitals charge far higher prices than hospitals in markets with more competition.
The executive order directs the FTC to review and revise its merger guidelines to ensure hospital mergers do not harm patients. Additionally, the order directs the HHS to support existing hospital price transparency rules and finish implementing bipartisan federal legislation to address surprise hospital billing.
Consolidation is also an issue in the health insurance sector, according to the Biden administration. Fewer insurance companies mean fewer options for consumers. Even when there are more options, comparing plans continues to be a struggle for many individuals.
The executive order directs the HHS to standardize plan options in the National Health Insurance Marketplace so people can comparison shop more easily.
The order does not invalidate any of the practices and procedures mentioned above.
However, industry experts recommend that employers take time now to review, at the very minimum, their use of restrictive covenant agreements and evaluate how this order may impact their practices such as their health insurance plans.
On July 7, 2021, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed the Colorado Privacy Act (SB 190) into law. The act creates personal data rights for Colorado consumers (its collection and use) along with the right to opt out of their personal data being processed for sale, profiling, or targeted advertising. The act was designed to stop the unauthorized disclosure of personal information and loss of privacy that cause financial fraud, identity theft, unnecessary costs in personal time and finances, destruction of property, harassment, reputational damage, emotional distress, and physical harm.
Under the act, controllers—the entities that determine why and how personal data is processed—must give consumers a clear and conspicuous way to opt out of their personal data being processed.
Consumers are also entitled to access, correct, or delete their data and get a copy of it. The act also imposes the following duties on controllers:
purpose of its processing, unless first getting the consumer’s permission.
The act is effective July 1, 2023.
On July 21, 2021, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) issued revised INFO #9:Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, Part 2: Transparency in Pay and Opportunities for Promotion and Advancement. It contains several critical changes concerning the CDLE’s interpretation of the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act and the required disclosure of compensation in job postings.
7/30 – Summary of Material Modification Deadline (for changes to calendar year plans made in 2020) 7/31 – Form 5500 Filing Deadline (calendar year plans)
8/2 – PCORI Fee Deadline
8/23 – 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 Component 1 Data Collection Deadline
9/30 – VETS-4212 Filing Deadline (federal contractors)
Lighthouse HR Support (LHRS) provides practical human resource information and guidance based upon our knowledge and experience in the industry and with our clients. LHRS services are not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. LHRS services are designed to provide general information to human resources and/or business professionals regarding human resource concerns commonly encountered. Given the changing nature of federal, state and local legislation and the changing nature of court decisions, LHRS cannot and will not guarantee that the information is completely current or accurate. LHRS services do not include or constitute legal, business, international, regulatory, insurance, tax or financial advice. Use of our services, whether by phone, email or in person shall indicate your acceptance of this knowledge.