GMS COVID-19 Pandemic FAQs

"Our number one priority is getting employees paid and maintaining benefits for those employees," GMS President Mike Kahoe said. "As such, we are offering our customers grace period on all benefits, state unemployment, and workers' comp billings."

GMS wants to address all concerns, starting with the list of common questions we anticipate from our clients and employees.

COVID-19 Testing Site Locator Tool for GMS Master Health Plan Members
If you are a member of GMS Master Health Plan we are pleased to introduce a COVID Testing Site Locator search tool, available on Cigna.com. The tool can be accessed by following this link.

You can also access the tool on the Cigna Coronavirus Resource Center at Cigna.com/coronavirus and click on the “Find a COVID Testing Center” link.  Users can search by location (city, state), or by Zip Code.  The locator tool will provide a list of testing centers within a 50-mile radius, sorted by nearest to farthest.

Q: How can this loan be used?

A: The PPP loan can be used on any of the following:

  • Payroll support (up to 100k annual salary) - This includes paid sick, medical or family leave and costs related to the continuation of group health care benefits during those periods of leave
  • Debt obligations incurred before 2/15/20
  • Employee salaries
  • Mortgage payments/interest
  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Any other debt obligations incurred before the covered period

Q: How much can I apply for?

A: Loans can be up to 2x your average monthly payroll costs plus an additional 25%, with a cap of $10 million.

Q: What is the interest rate?

A: Fixed 1% regardless of business type. Final rates, underwriting standards and other terms and conditions are to be determined.

Q: What are the terms of this loan?

A: This loan has a maturity of two years and an interest rate of .5%. These loans will be issued by SBA 7(a) lenders.

Q: Is there any loan forgiveness?

A: An eligible recipient shall be eligible for forgiveness of indebtedness in an amount equal to the cost of maintaining payroll continuity and other allowable costs during the covered period (8 weeks from loan origination). The borrower shall submit to the lender an application, which shall include documentation verifying the number of full-time equivalent employees on payroll and the other costs included in "Allowable Use:" 

  • Payroll tax filings reported to the IRS
  • State income, payroll, and unemployment insurance filings
  • Financial statements verifying payment on debt obligations incurred before the covered period
  • Any other necessary documentation to be determined

The amount of any loan forgiveness will be reduced by any reductions in employee wages (in excess of 25% for any employee) or a reduction in the number of employees during the covered period.

For more information, visit https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

*Sources: Congress.gov, US Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service

**Content is deemed reliable, but not vetted or endorsed for accuracy by GMS.

*Details are changing daily, last updated 4/2/20.

*GMS is providing this information; however, you should consult with your tax or legal advisor regarding your personal circumstances.

Q: Can you recap the PPP loan forgiveness information?  

A: Loan forgiveness will be determined by your lender, please plan to partner with your lender as they begin to outline what information is needed to apply for forgiveness. Loan forgiveness for PPP is based on how the loan proceeds are used. The loan must be used to cover payroll expenses, mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over an eight-week period after the funds have been dispersed to you. A maximum of 25% of the forgiven loan amount can be used to cover non-payroll expenses.  

Here are a few examples that may help you understand how wages and full-time equivalents may impact your forgiveness:   

  • Reduction in FTE Count – Not re-establishing FTE count by June 30, 2020 will result in a percentage reduction in loan forgiveness. e.g. If a company employed 100 FTEs during the average FTE period but employed only 90 during the eight-week period after the PPP loan was funded and did not restore to the 100 FTEs by June 30, 2020, there would be a 10% loss in forgiveness.  
  • Reduction in Wages - An employer who cuts wages by more than 25% would receive a dollar-for-dollar reduction in loan forgiveness. e.g., If a company was paying salaries of $1,000,000 during 2019, and salaries were only $700,000 on an annualized basis during the eight-week period after the PPP loan was funded, the company would lose $50,000 in forgiveness ($1,000,000 * 75% = $750,000 less $700,000). This calculation is performed employee-by-employee. Employees earning more than $100,000 are excluded from this calculation. 

Q: What is considered a full-time equivalent (FTE) under the Paycheck Protection Program?  

A:  The U.S. Small Business Administration or the IRS have yet to publish official guidance on hours worked per week that constitutes FTE.  In other publications, (i.e. FTE definition under the Affordable Care Act) the IRS has deemed full-time to be 30 hours per week. Another approach may be to reference the Internal Revenue Code; CARES Act Section 2301(c)(3), which pertains to the employee retention credits, defines full-time by referencing IRC Section 4980H: A full-time employee is an individual who works an average of at least 30 hours per week.  

Q: How can we document payroll expenses for the PPP?  

A: GMS has a report that we can run for you that pulls some information together in a clean format, it is called GMS CARES – PPP Forgiveness. We can run this report weekly or at the end of the eight-week period. The following information is included in the report – gross wages, PSL/EFMLA (in case you need to back them out), benefits, 401k contributions, and SUTA. We are hoping you can take this report and add/remove any additional information you need to it.

Q: Can you recap the recommendations the AICPA has recently laid out for loan forgiveness?  

  • Recommendation #1: Align the beginning of the eight-week covered period with the beginning of a pay period NOT the date loan proceeds are received. 
  • Recommendation #2: Begin the eight-week covered period when operating restrictions are lifted, rather than the date loan proceeds are received.   
  • Recommendation # 3: Defining Full Time Equivalents - The CARES Act does not define how to calculate a full-time equivalent (FTE). We recommend following the definition under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 30 hours. Because hours are not always collected for certain types of employees (e.g. salaried workers or those paid by piecework), we recommend using a wage-based proxy for determining FTEs.   
  • Recommendation # 4: Payroll reduction calculation should be done based on the average payroll per employee per week rather than the total compensation per employee in an eight-week period versus the prior quarter.

Q: How can this loan be used?

A: The EIDL can be used on any of the following:

  • Payroll
  • Fixed debts
  • Accounts payable
  • Other expenses that can't be paid because of the disaster's impact

Q: How much can I apply for?

A: You can apply for up to $2 million

Q: What is the interest rate?

A: 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits.

Q: What are the terms of this loan?

A: They will vary, but up to 30 years.

Q: Is there any loan forgiveness?

A: 0% is eligible for forgiveness.

Q: How do I apply?

A: Apply directly to the SBA at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ selecting Economic Injury as your reason. Alternatively, call SBA disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov 

For more information, visit https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

*Sources: Congress.gov, US Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service

**Content is deemed reliable, but not vetted or endorsed for accuracy by GMS.

*Details are changing daily, last updated 4/2/20.

*GMS is providing this information; however, you should consult with your tax or legal advisor regarding your personal circumstances.

The federal government has approved stimulus payments to aid American citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The breakdown:

  • Individual taxpayers earning less than $75,000 to receive a payment of $1,200. Married couples earning less than $150,000 combined to receive a payment of $2,400. An additional $500 per qualifying child under the age of 17.

General advice and anticipated scams:

  • You do not need to sign up with the federal government to receive payment, the IRS will use prior tax returns from 2018/2019.
  • You do not need to pay to receive their payment, the government will at no time require money to issue a stimulus check.

Direct deposit of funds are anticipated to take approximately three weeks, issued checks are anticipated to take longer. DO NOT provide any “processing fees” to any party claiming to be able to speed up the deposit of funds. No one is able to expedite the issuance of stimulus funds.

Do not open emails or click links regarding the COVID-19 stimulus unless you have verified the source to be legitimate. Opening emails or links can expose personal information and/or lock devices requiring a “ransom” to unlock the device.

The government will NEVER contact you requesting a social security number, credit card information, banking information or credentials for websites such as PayPal or Venmo. If you receive a stimulus check for an amount different than the breakdown listed above, or if the check is required to be verified on the internet or over the phone, it is likely a scam. Do not cash the check, do not attempt to verify the check, call your local Police Department immediately.

You should receive a paper notice in the mail 1 to 3 weeks after the issuance of COVID-19 Stimulus funds. The notice will contain the address where the payment was sent and on what date. If, after receiving the notice, the direct deposit or check is not received, contact the IRS.

For more information, or if you feel you have been the victim of a COVID-19 Stimulus Check scam, contact:

Additionally, beware of spoofed and fraudulent websites. There has been a huge uptick in sites that are purporting to be official or governmental sites offering relief, etc. that are designed to fraudulently collect personal or financial information or sell you testing to relief supplies. Also, be on the lookout for phishing scams where an email tries to lure you to a legitimate-looking site that asks you to login to view safety information provided by United Nations officials, or doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Q: How will GMS employees be able to continue to work to ensure that my employees get paid during this crisis? 

A: GMS has taken the precaution of instituting a company-wide work-from-home policy. In fact, a large percentage of our company already works from remote locations several days per week. This gives us a great deal of confidence in our ability to support you without disruption. Additionally, all GMS employees have access to all GMS systems, including phones and video conferencing, from wherever they work, and these systems are built on highly redundant platforms. 

Q: How is GMS protecting my data during this crisis? Aren't allowances being made that could reduce the cyber protections in place to allow your employees to work from home?

A: GMS has invested in cyber security improvements over the last 18 months that are effective at protecting our Clients' data regardless of where you, or our staff, interact with it. All these safeguards remain in place, and we will maintain a high level of vigilance to ensure that your data and your employees' payroll is secure. 

Q: Will my GMS plan pay for the COVID-19 testing (Codes U0001 and U0002)?

A: Yes. GMS will waive member cost share for these tests when administered by in-network providers in accordance with the CDC guidelines.

Q: Will my GMS plan cover the treatment for COVID-19?

A: Yes. Treatment for COVID-19 is eligible under the normal provisions of the plan when following CDC guidelines.

Q: If I lay off part of my workforce in response to the COVID-19 crisis, can the company continue to cover those employees?

A: Yes. As long as you continue to pay premiums, you may continue to cover laid-off employees even though they are not actively at work. Please note that you must administer the plan on a uniform, non-discriminatory basis. In other words, you may not choose to pay premiums for only certain people.

Q: If I have to lay off my entire workforce in response to the COVID-19 crisis, can the company continue to cover those employees?

A: Yes, as long as one person remains actively employed by the group. If you continue to pay premiums, you may continue to cover laid-off employees even though they are not actively at work. Again, this must be administered on a uniform, non-discriminatory basis.

Q: What about continuation of coverage?

A: As long as one person remains actively employed, employees may be offered COBRA and may elect to continue coverage under COBRA under the normal notice and election procedure.

If the plan has no active employees, the plan is terminated and COBRA is not an option. In that case, employees would have a special enrollment period to enroll in individual coverage or could purchase a short-term plan that is subject to medical underwriting.

Q: If I have to terminate coverage for my employees in the middle of a month, will I receive a refund of my premium for the rest of the month?

A: While your contract states that GMS will not refund a partial month's premium, we will refund the proportional amount of premium should you terminate your coverage before the end of the month given the gravity of the current situation.

Q: In light of the COVID-19 crisis, can I get a grace period extension on paying my premium?

A: Yes. GMS is offering to extend the grace period for your next monthly premium payment by up to 60 days.

Q: Will employees who are laid off temporarily as a result of COVID-19 concerns be permitted to rejoin the plan without a waiting period when they return to work?

A: Yes. There will be no waiting period for current employees who are rehired by May 31, 2020. New hires are subject to any waiting period the plan requires.

Q: Will I lose my job-based group-health coverage? 

A: You may qualify for tax credits that can lower your monthly premiums and for lower out-of-pocket costs. Please inquire with your Benefit Account Manager if you have any questions.

*For more details on COBRA coverage and the Marketplace, click the link below. 

LINK: COBRA vs. Marketplace

Q: Is our GMS pharmacy plan through MedTrakRx going to allow early re-fills on prescriptions if necessary?

A: MedTrak has relaxed its refill-too-soon edits for non-opioid and non-specialty medications. These are not changes that will happen automatically and will occur at the discretion of dispensing pharmacists.

Q: What does the Families First Coronavirus Response Act mean to covering testing for Covid-19?

A: On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the second coronavirus relief measure into law – the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Act). Effective immediately, the Act requires group health plans and health insurance issuers to cover COVID-19 testing without imposing any cost sharing (such as deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance) or prior authorization or other medical management requirements. During this public health emergency, health plans and issuers must cover FDA-approved diagnostic testing products for COVID-19, including any items or services provided during a visit to a provider (in-person or telehealth), urgent care center or emergency room that relate to COVID-19 testing. This coverage cannot be subject to any plan deductible, copayment, or coinsurance. This coverage mandate does NOT require health plans and issuers to cover COVID-19 treatment at no charge. Exact coverage details for COVID-19 treatment, including any cost-sharing amounts, will vary by plan.

Q: Will private health plans cover the cost of COVID-19 diagnostic testing that occurs prior to April 2?

A: Yes, this section of the legislation is effective from the date of enactment, March 18, 2020, through the end of the national emergency period. The Act states that “a group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage  shall provide coverage, and shall not impose any cost sharing (including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance) requirements or prior authorization or other medical management requirements” for specific items related to testing or related health care provider visits.

Q: What can I do about prescription medication if I lost coverage?

A: Cigna and Express Scripts are stepping up to help Americans who lose their coverage as a result of COVID-19 afford their prescription medications. In response to this crisis, we are introducing Express Scripts Parachute RxSM, a temporary program available to anyone who is newly unemployed and without insurance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parachute Rx offers deep discounts on thousands of prescription medications. A 30-day supply of generic medications will cost patients $25 or less, and brand medications will cost $75 or less. Enrollees can choose to have their medications delivered to their home from the Express Scripts Pharmacy, or any one of more than 50,000 participating retail pharmacies.

“If you have friends or family members who have lost their prescription drug coverage, please let them know we can help”

The program, which will be available for a limited time, is not health insurance and does not require an enrollment fee or commitment to participate. Eligibility information and a list of covered brand-name medications are available at express-scripts.com/parachuterx.

We worked with pharmaceutical manufacturers and retail pharmacies to make Parachute Rx possible. The program is administered by Express Scripts’ InsideRx® discount card program, a subsidiary of Express Scripts specializing in prescription drug discount programs for self-paying consumers.

There are two easy ways eligible consumers can take advantage of Express Scripts Parachute Rx:

  1. Go to express-scripts.com/parachuterx to check medication prices, choose home delivery, and find participating pharmacies near you.
  2. Ask your local pharmacist if Parachute Rx discounts are available for your prescription.

Customer service is available seven days a week at 877.644.0212.

Q: What should Employers do if an employee discloses they have been in close contact with a person who tested positive or who is awaiting test results for COVID-19?

A: According to the CDC, individuals who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 should self-quarantine. Employers can require an employee who has been exposed to the virus to stay home. Your HR Account Manager would be happy to help you navigate through these types of situations.

Q: If an Employer is considering a temporary or permanent lay off what steps should be considered? 

A: Employers should work closely with their HR Account Manager who will help guide them through this process. Items to consider include how to appropriately select employees for lay off, necessary documentation to provide to the employee, COBRA and Health Care Benefits (if applicable), and assisting with unemployment benefits.

Q: If my state has instituted a “Stay at Home” order allowing only Essential Businesses to continue operation, what qualifies as an “Essential Business?” 

A: In Ohio, for example, essential businesses are allowed to continue to operate, but must comply with social distancing requirements. A few examples of these are: 

  • Healthcare and public health operations
  • Human services operations
  • Essential infrastructure
  • Essential government functions
  • Stores that sell groceries and medicine
  • Food and beverage production and agriculture
  • Charitable and social services
  • Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation
  • Critical trades
  • Restaurants for off-premise consumption
  • Transportation
  • Professional services
  • Hotels
  • Home-based care

For the full order and list, please reference the following link - Order to Stay at Home. 

The Governor of Ohio has issued a Stay at Home Order effective March 23 at 11:59 p.m. and lasting for the next two weeks. Group Management Services is considered an Essential Business. All our services will continue as normal. We will also continue to monitor developments and recommendations from the CDC, Federal, State, and Local government. We hope you are doing well. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help.

Q: What are my next steps?

A: If you are considered an essential business, we are happy to help guide you through the social distancing requirements. If you are unable to continue business because of the Stay at Home Order, we are happy to help you navigate next steps. If you have positions that have the ability to work from home, we are happy to help create a work from home policy. In the unfortunate event your business requires layoff of some or all of your workforce at this time, we can assist in documentation, communication, and next steps.   

If you have any other questions regarding this mandate in Ohio, please reference the Director’s Stay at Home Order.

Q: President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) on March 18, 2020, so its provisions go into effect no later than April 2. Will the leave provisions, Emergency FMLA (EFMLA) and Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) be applied retroactively?

A: When a law is to be applied retroactively it will typically state so in plain language, which this legislation does not. Therefore, the law will likely not be enacted retroactively. GMS will alert you of any change to this.

Q: From now until April 2, how should we handle employees who need time away from work for COVID-19 related reasons? What documentation should we require?

A: Until the legislation takes full effect, continue handling these situations as you have been on a case by case basis. Work with your HR Account Manager for assistance. Rely on current employment policies, including but not limited to paid time off, paid vacation, sick leave, or other leaves of absence policies. Certification for certain absences (advisement by health care provider to self-quarantine, experiencing symptoms, seeking diagnosis) may be hard to obtain due to doctors not seeing patients, providing notes, or conducting full testing. GMS has created the attached Documentation on a COVID-19 Absence that may be used to gather facts and communicate details of a potential leave of absence. This would be filed in the employee’s confidential personnel file. 

Q: Do you have the forms necessary for employees to file for EFMLA and EPSL?

A: No, official forms or documentation have not been released yet by the Federal government. We will provide if, and when, they become available.  

Q: Do we have to offer EFMLA and EPSL to employees who are already or who will be laid off prior to April 2?   

A: No, if employees are laid off, they become eligible for unemployment compensation under the Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization and Access Act. This is handled separately from EFMLA and EPSL. 

Q: If I cut an employee’s hours, can they apply for partial unemployment?

A: Yes, an employee experiencing a reduction in hours may apply for and obtain unemployment benefits. In Ohio, if the reduction in hours is due to COVID-19, employee should provide Mass Layoff ID# 2000180. These layoffs will not affect your unemployment rate as all coronavirus layoffs will be charged to the Ohio Unemployment Mutual Fund and will not be charged to your account.

Q: If an employee is CHOOSING to stay home out of fear of exposure, how do you recommend we handle this scenario?

A: Evaluate the safety precautions you, as a business, have taken to protect employees and prevent the potential spread of COVID-19. If you feel that you have taken all preventative measures within reason, review your current time off policies and available time off balances with the employee, or explain the unpaid model you have been utilizing. 

Q: How can an employer apply for and receive the small business exemption to the leave provisions of the FFCRA?

A: Employers with fewer than 50 employees are eligible for an exemption from the requirements to provide leave in cases where the viability of the business is threatened. That said, it remains to be seen how to request an exemption and for which provisions of the legislation the exemption will apply to. Please note the FFCRA allows tax credits up to 100 percent of the cost of paid leaves. Under guidance that will be released this week, eligible employers who pay qualifying sick, childcare, or other leave will be able to retain an amount of the payroll taxes equal to the amount of qualifying leave paid, rather than deposit them with the IRS. Per the legislation and the IRS, the payroll taxes that are available for retention include withheld federal income taxes, and both the employee and employer share of Social Security and Medicare taxes. 

We will be covering tax credits and small business relief on Friday, March 27, 2020 during the next webinar in our COVID-19 webinar series. Please join us. You may register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/6872645169703825931 

Q: Will Coronavirus related layoffs affect my unemployment rate?

A: Every state is different. In Ohio (where we are headquartered), these layoffs will not affect your rate. All coronavirus layoffs will be charged to the Ohio Unemployment Mutual Fund and will not be charged to your account. 

Q: Will my employees have a waiting week before their unemployment starts?

A: No, Governor DeWine (Ohio) has waived the waiting period for all lack of work claims so employees can start collecting as soon as the claim has been processed.

Q: What is the best resource for a pandemic plan? 

A: You can utilize the following websites:

If you would like help personalizing a plan to your industry, please reach out to your safety coordinator or email us at safetysupport@groupmgmt.com.

Q: Do you have an OSHA violation, situation, or scheduled informal conference during this pandemic time?

A: GMS can still assist on your behalf. Our safety coordinators are available for teleconferences and have already participated in many over the last few weeks, reducing fines and penalties.

Q: How can I ensure I prepare for the safety of my employees when they return to work?

A: There are many practices that you can implement as you begin to bring employees back to work. As State and Local guidelines are released, you may want to align your plan with what is outlined for your location. As a guideline, you may want to focus on the key areas of social distancing and personal protective equipment, temperature checks, sanitation, common and high traffic areas, and business travel. Sharing the steps that you are taking with employees, customers, vendors, and key stakeholders is very important throughout this process. A few areas to begin thinking about as you prepare: 

  • Social distancing & PPE – are you able to add space between workstations? Can you convert conference rooms to offices? Can you convert any of your operations to being conducted virtually? Are you able to provide gloves/masks for employee use?
  • Temperature Checks – how will you conduct these? What will be the temperature cut-off and who will make that determination? 
  • Sanitation - What does your cleaning routine look like? How have you changed it after COVID19? What about your ventilation systems? Does each workstation have disinfectant wipes? 
  • Common/High Traffic areas – Are you able to close these off or reduce the amount that is used? What can you do for alternate time keeping? 
  • Business Travel - What is considered essential travel in your business? There are some employers that have people drive together to job sites. How are you going to do that? Can you have people drive separately?

Q: Are there appropriate times when a mask can be removed if we are requiring our employees to wear them?

A: Yes, if employees are six feet apart, they can remove their masks when at their own work stations. Masks should be worn when employees are not six feet apart. They should also be worn when entering and exiting the building or frequenting common areas throughout the workplace.   
 
Q: How do we make sure masks are being worn appropriately?

A: Masks should not be touched frequently and should cover the nose and mouth. If wearing a cloth mask, here are some tips the CDC has laid out:

Cloth face coverings should: 

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face 
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops 
  • Include multiple layers of fabric 
  • Allow for breathing without restriction 
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape 

Q: Where can I find PPEs? 

A: GMS has been made aware that the following companies have PPE available:

  1. Penncare – Face shields and thermometers - www.penncare.net 
  2. Prime Business Solutions/Ampersand Group - KN95 masks and disposable face masks (Contact: Spencer Mellon - smellon@Prime-Business.net O: 330-379-0067)
  3. Rapid Prototype & Manufacturing - Face shields - Orders@rpplusm.com 
  4. Chocolate Creations - Face shields (Contact: terrim@chocolatecreationsinc.com or 330-877-9700)
  5. Tempagenix - Temp N Toss forehead-thermometer (Contact: Shelly Heller- sheller@asapi.com)

To learn more about GMS, visit https://www.groupmgmt.com/about-us/.

 

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