Washington, DC – The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) will work with President Biden, Vice President Harris, and the 117th Congress to protect and enhance employee benefits.
“ERIC welcomes the opportunity to work closely with President Biden and Vice President Harris as they address the coronavirus pandemic. Our large employer member companies are ready to do their part to help vaccinate their workforces and reopen the economy,” said Annette Guarisco Fildes, president and CEO, ERIC. “ERIC believes the practical measures we have shared with the President will have an immediate, positive impact on working Americans across the nation by advancing access to vaccinations, lowering health care costs, and enhancing financial wellness and retirement security.”
To assist in the COVID-19 response, ERIC has provided the administration with a road map to improve health care and to advance COVID-19 testing and vaccinations for workers. Those steps include:
- Establishing a national, uniform plan for vaccination that prioritizes reopening the economy
- Maintaining and improving protections to avoid out-of-network price-gouging when patients obtain COVID testing and vaccinations
- Empowering employers to create incentives for employees to get vaccinated
- Expanding policies to protect employers that rely on governmental guidance to protect employees and the public
- Suspending enforcement of IRS employer shared responsibility penalties for companies and industries experiencing rapid transitions and hardship due to the pandemic
- Requiring that health care providers accepting COVID relief funds may not send “surprise” medical bills to patients
- Ensuring access to telehealth for all with health provider state licensing reciprocity and other measures
Additionally, ERIC outlined steps the new administration can take to implement transparency and accountability in health care, reduce prescription drug costs, and improve patient safety throughout the system.
ERIC also laid out ways to advance financial wellness and retirement security and urged the administration to maintain the expansion of electronic delivery, update lifetime income disclosure requirements to reflect current practices, continue with missing participant guidance, and allow relief from single-employer Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) premiums.
2021 also brings with it a new Congress, with whom ERIC has promised to work closely to create targeted relief for employee benefits through the pandemic and beyond, including:
- Relief for single-employer pension plans and reforming of the multiemployer pension plan system
- Strengthening retiree health care by allowing employers to use excess pension funds for retiree health and retiree life insurance benefits
- Temporary relief from testing requirements for employers that reinstate 401(k) matching contributions for the 2020 plan year
ERIC continues to champion legislation to modernize 401(k) plan rules, including modifying the definition of a highly compensated employee and allowing for emergency savings accounts as part of retirement savings plans. ERIC also supports bipartisan proposals to expand retirement savings opportunities and minimize administrative burdens, including:
- Allowing for employer-provided student loan relief through retirement plans and with direct employer support that is tax-free
- Providing a safe harbor for the recovery of retirement plan overpayments
- Establishing an Office of Retirement Savings Lost & Found within the PBGC that would serve as an online database on all lost retirement accounts
ERIC commits to working with lawmakers to reduce unsustainable drug costs, promote transparency and accountability in the health system, and expand telemedicine access.
ERIC remains an important voice in the discussion of national paid family and medical leave. Large multi-state employers, like ERIC member companies, already voluntarily provide generous paid leave benefits to their workers but are challenged by conflicting and counterproductive administrative requirements put in place by individual states and localities. These requirements add to the cost of paid leave plans but not to the benefits received by workers. ERIC will work with lawmakers to ensure any federal paid leave proposal supports and does not negatively impact the generous paid leave benefits currently provided by large employers to their nationwide workforce.
“ERIC will work diligently to ensure that large employers can provide robust, affordable, high-value employee benefits to their workforce. There has never been a more important time to ensure that workers and their families are safe and healthy and have access to high quality, affordable health care, and a financially secure retirement,” said Guarisco Fildes.