combsandco


Blue Cross Blue Shield Settlement Updates
May 13, 2021, 10:00 am
Filed under: Affordable Care Act, Blue Cross, Combs & Company, Important Notice

You and/or your employees may be receiving information about a Blue Cross Blue Shield Class Action Settlement soon. 

You may be eligible to submit a claim if you are an INDIVIDUAL, INSURED GROUP (and their employees) or a SELF-FUNDED ACCOUNT that purchased or was enrolled in a Blue Cross or Blue Shield from February 7, 2008 through October 16, 2020.  This includes groups (and their employees) purchasing coverage through an Association Plan that utilizes one of these insurance companies.  

The Net Settlement Fund is estimated to be approximately $1.9 billion after attorney fees, administration expenses and other costs are deducted from the total $2.67 billion Settlement Fund. 

We can not estimate how much you might be eligible to receive as it will be based on the number of claimants and several other factors.  If the total payment for any claimant is equal or less than $5.00, no payment will be made. 

To learn more, please visit the official Settlement Website:  http://bcbssettlement.com  

THE INSIDER LEGISLATIVE UPDATES BROADCAST
Click the play button below for a broadcast where Colleen Patterson, Director, Employer Services and Compliance, and Christine Guzzardo, J.D., Senior Employer Services Specialist, ERISA, discuss the latest updates on the Blue Cross Blue Shield Settlement. 

Below is also some additional contact information for your reference.  



5 Things Every Small Business Owner Should Know About The American Rescue Plan Act
May 12, 2021, 1:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

by Gene Marks

Black Chalkboard with Handwritten Business Concept – Small Business – on Black Office Desk and Other Office Supplies Around. Top View. 3d Rendering. Toned Image.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 aims to help the American economy recover after a long and difficult year of shutdowns and hardships related to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re a small business owner, here are the five things you need to know about it:

1. More businesses are eligible for PPP loans Until May 31

Not only did the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) receive an additional $7.25 billion as part of the legislation, but more small businesses are now eligible to apply.

The program was expanded to include internet-only news and periodical publishers with more than one location. Larger 501(c)(3) organizations and veteran organizations that employ not more than 500 employees per physical location can participate now as well. The broader eligibility standards also allow larger 501(c)(6) organizations, domestic marketing organizations, and additional covered not-for-profit entities that employ not more than 300 employees per physical location to apply for program benefits.

Via a directive from the Biden Administration prior to the passage of the bill, independent contractors and sole proprietors who apply for the loan can now use “gross income” (line 7 on their Schedule C tax form) instead of “net income” as a means to calculate their loan availability, a change that will greatly expand the size of the loans for many.

Most of the other conditions of the program still apply, including second-round loans that are targeted toward businesses that have experienced a decline in revenues and an expansion in the types of expenses that can be used for forgiveness.

On March 25, Congress extended the Paycheck Protection Program application deadline. The legislation will set a new application deadline of May 31, allowing the Small Business Administration (SBA) to continue processing applications for up to 30 days past the new date.

2. There’s a new, grant program for restaurant and bar owners.

It’s called the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and it is designed for restaurants, bars, food stands, food trucks, food carts, caterers, saloons, inns, taverns, lounges, brewpubs, tasting rooms, taprooms and any licensed facility or premise of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample, or purchase products, or other similar place of business in which the public or patrons assemble for the primary purpose of being served food or drink.

Those entities can receive up to $10 million as compensation for any reduction in revenues they experienced in 2020 compared to 2019. The money must be spent on certain things like payroll and operating costs.

The legislation allocated nearly $29 billion to this fund, with $5 billion set aside for eligible applicants that have 2019 gross receipts of $500,000 or less. The bill also charges the Small Business Administration (SBA) with awarding grants in “an equitable manner to eligible entities of different sizes based on annual gross receipts.” During the first 21 days of the grants, the SBA will prioritize applications from restaurants owned and operated or controlled by women, veterans, or socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

Applications for the fund are not available as of this writing but will eventually be found on the Small Business Administration’s website.

3. More grants are targeted at businesses located in low-income communities.

A low-income community is generally defined as where the average income of its residents is 50-80 percent of the average income of its surrounding communities. If the SBA determines that your business is located in one of these areas, then you may be eligible for a special grant.

The bill designated $15 billion for grants for businesses located in low-income communities that have no more than 300 employees and that have suffered an economic loss of more than 30 percent, as determined by the amount that the entity’s gross receipts declined during an eight-week period between March 2, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2021, relative to a comparable eight-week period immediately preceding March 2, 2020.

In addition, and no later than 14 days after the American Rescue Plan Act is enacted, the SBA must initiate a two-week period of accepting applications from any applicants that previously applied for targeted Advances under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and, because of lack of funds, did not receive the amount to which they were entitled.

The SBA can also make grants of $5,000 to “severely impacted” small businesses, which are eligible entities that have suffered an economic loss of more than 50 percent and have no more than 10 employees. Following that, the SBA can make $5,000 grants to “substantially impacted” businesses, which are those with no more than 10 employees that can demonstrate a loss of between 30 percent and 50 percent.

If you’re in an affected area, you can apply for these grants directly on the Small Business Administration’s website.

4. A new tax credit will help pay for your employees’ health insurance.

Because it’s been around for so long, many employers and their workers recognize the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, better known as COBRA. The Act allows employees to continue their health care coverage with their employer for a set period of time even after parting ways by continuing to pay their health insurance premiums.

When companies were involuntarily forced to lay off workers as a result of the pandemic, many workers risked losing their health coverage because they couldn’t afford the premiums. The American Rescue Plan Act now provides businesses with a tax credit that will effectively reimburse them for the cost of covering these premiums. The credit expires on September 30 and comes with other limitations, so it’s best to speak to your tax or payroll advisor about your particulars.

5. Finally, two additional (and generous) tax credits have been extended.

The Employee Retention Tax Credit allows companies who were either partially or fully shut down in a quarter or experienced a revenue decline of more than 20 percent in any quarter of 2021 (or 50 percent in any quarter of 2020) compared to 2019 to receive a generous (up to $7,000 per employee per quarter in 2021) tax credit against the payroll taxes owed. The credit can be taken even if you’re participating in the Paycheck Protection Program (although you can’t use the same payroll amounts to both calculate forgiveness and for the credit) and is calculated on your quarterly federal 941 payroll tax return. What’s great about this credit is that it’s refundable – if the credit is larger than the taxes owed you can get cash for the difference.

The American Rescue Plan Act extends this credit through December 31.

Although the requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act became voluntary in 2021, if you’re still providing compensation to employees who miss work because of COVID-related illness to themselves or family members, you can still claim the tax credit associated with the Act to get reimbursement. Eligible reasons for missing work have been expanded to now include vaccinations and their side effects.

This credit is also taken on your quarterly federal 941 payroll tax return and has now been extended through September 30.

Click Here for the original article!



Feature Friday with Rebecca Rakoski

“No longer are technology and cyber issues confined to tech geeks in some backroom. In the digital age, IT issues are front and center.”  Will Hurd

2021:17

During my 25+ years in and around technology, the most common refrain from those on the business side of a company when it came to cyber was, “It’s an IT problem.”  That is not the case any longer.  Your IT folks have to be involved in the discussion, but cyber is most definitely a business problem now.  Don’t believe me?  Maybe my next guest on Did You Know That? can convince you.

Rebecca Rakoski is a founding partner of XPAN Law Partners, a practice primarily dedicated to their client’s cyber welfare.  Our conversation focuses on what that means for businesses; some best practices required to stay in “compliance;” and a host of other elements of a cyber program.

Website: https://xpanlawpartners.com/

LinkedIn (personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebecca-rakoski-esq-1460b116/

LinkedIn (firm): https://www.linkedin.com/company/xpan-law-partners/

Twitter: @XPANLawPartners

Email: rrakoski@xpanlawpartners.com



Tenacious Tuesday with Lester Morales

Choose Your Own Adventure With Guest Lester Morales

“Take the next step or choose to let it cripple you.” The wise words from the incredibly impactful man himself, Lester Morales is our next guest.

  Lester is no newbie to the game of a go-getter. After many years as a super successful sales leader, he took a good look around and knew there was a bigger impact to be made in his industry & more importantly his life. With the help of wise words from his mom and a strong belief in himself, he chose to take the leap of faith and opened the doors of Next Impact, LLC. 

What happened would be enough to knock many others of course, still after major hits he has proven to never back down and is as successful as ever running a now 7 figure business he gets to call his own.

 Lester’s journey is a true definition that you don’t get to choose the cards you’re dealt on the journey in life, what you do get to choose is how you move forward to make an impact from that.

 Connect with Lester on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/lester-j-morales-5064b91/ 

Instagram: @collblum & @tryandstopmepodcast

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/try-and-stop-me/id1525146944#episodeGuid=da6af75b-96b8-4d34-917a-48ec70ee5c85



Feature Friday with James Mottola!

The United States Secret Service was established in 1865 to combat counterfeiting.  In 1901, the agency was charged with protecting America’s political leaders, their families, and visiting heads of state or government.

2021:16

James Mottola is a frequent collaborator of mine on the Everything Cyber playlist, as well as other engagements revolving around cybersecurity and cyber liability.  What some of you may not know is that Jim spent 20+ years in the United States Secret Service.  That’s where he was indoctrinated into the world of cyber.

We’re taking this episode of Did You Know That? to explore Jim’s time with the Secret Service, talk about the agency’s mission, and discuss how it prepared him for the work he does today.  While Jim doesn’t reveal any agency secrets, you will get a better idea of how it’s disparate mandates are handled and why there is intense competition among all government agencies.

You can learn more about Jim and his current job by visiting the sites below:

Porzio Compliance Services: https://porziocomplianceservices.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamesmottola/

Music: “Come Get Yours – Instrumental” by Bunker Buster via Artlist



Employer’s Responsibility for New COBRA Subsidy Notifications
April 29, 2021, 9:30 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

We know as employers you have a lot on your plate right now, and unfortunately we are going to add some parmesan, but know we are here to help in any way we can.  You may have been seeing in the news about this new COBRA subsidy that will allow for former employees who were involuntarily terminated or experienced a reduction in hours to get “free” COBRA for six months (April 1-Sept 30).  That isn’t just smoke and mirrors, it is true, but it will require some work on your end. 

Below is the game plan:

  1. Did you have any former employee that their coverage was lost due to involuntary job loss or a reduction in hours of work who is still covered by COBRA? (typically anyone terminated since November 2019)
  2. If the answer to #1 was yes, then you are going to have to send the attached notices to all of the former employees by May 31st, 2021 or be subject to a penalty that is yet to be determined.
  3. If the answer is currently no however layoffs will occur between April 1- September 30th, please refer to the attached documents for your updated COBRA notice that will need to be sent to the employee being laid off or reduced hours.

So what does this mean if you are on the hook to send these notices?

  1. That the COBRA qualified individual is not eligible for a subsidy if they can obtain coverage under another group plan or Medicare.
  2. The subsidy is only available for someone that that has been involuntarily terminated (not for gross misconduct) or had a reduction in hours.

Who pays?

  • For employers with 20+ employees, the premium assistance will be delivered through the employer paying COBRA premiums to the insurance carrier (or covering the cost of providing COBRA coverage under a self-insured plan) and then taking a payroll tax credit to recoup the cost of covering COBRA premiums or costs.  Employers will treat the subsidy as a credit against the employer’s share of Medicare tax under Internal Revenue Code Section 3111(b). 
  • If the credit exceeds the taxes owed for a quarter, the excess will be refundable.

*Please discuss with your CPA for more information regarding the tax credit/refundable amounts.

So what do I have to do again?

  1. Fill out the “Alternative Notice” that is attached (just the areas that are highlighted)
  2. Send that out via email or first class mail along with the Summary of Provisions Application & the COBRA application by May 31, 2021 – the former employee will have 60 days from the date received to send back the applications to you.  Flip them to us when you get them. 
  3. Also, send the “Summary of COBRA Premium Assistance Provision” that includes the form to request the premium assistance as an Assistance Eligible Individual.
  4. You’ll have to send one more notice out, the “Notice of Expiration of Period of Premium Assistance” notice that has to hit their inbox between August 15 – September 15 to remind them to drop the COBRA if they do not have any intentions of paying for it after the subsidy is over.

Know that this is ever evolving and that there will be a lot of questions coming down the pike.  We are in your corner as always to help.  Still have questions?  Click Here for common FAQs!

Looking for the packet of sample notices? Download the packet at the hyperlink below!



Feature Friday with DYKT? Snippets

“The five most efficient cyber defenders are: Anticipation, Education, Detection, Reaction and Resilience. Do remember: Cybersecurity is much more than an IT topic.” Stephane Nappo

And now Part 2 of the 2-part premiere of DYKT? Snippets.  We’re closing out the conversation about the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS) Part 500 cyber regulations.  Be sure to watch Part 1 before diving into these videos.

For context, here are some links for the regulations & the actual requirements:

Who NYSDFS Supervises: https://www.dfs.ny.gov/who_we_supervise

NYSDFS Industry Definitions: https://www.dfs.ny.gov/institution_definition

NYSDFS Cybersecurity Resource Ctr: https://www.dfs.ny.gov/industry_guidance/cybersecurity

Regulation Sections:

500.02 – Cybersecurity Program

500.03 – Cybersecurity Policy

500.04 – Chief Information Security Officer (exempt)

500.05 – Penetration Testing & Vulnerability Assessments (exempt)

500.06 – Audit Trail (exempt)

500.07 – Access Privileges

500.08 – Application Security (exempt)

500.09 – Risk Assessment

500.10 – Cybersecurity Personnel and Intelligence (exempt)

500.11 – Third Party Service Provider Security Policy

500.12 – Multi-Factor Authentication (exempt)

500.13 – Limitations on Data Retention

500.14 – Training and Monitoring (exempt)

500.15 – Encryption of Nonpublic Information (exempt)

500.16 – Incident Response Plan (exempt)

500.17 – Notices to Superintendent

Music: “Camaro” by Oliver Michael via Artlist



Tenacious Tuesday with Christina Passmore
April 20, 2021, 10:26 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Check out the latest episode of the “Try and Stop Me” Podcast! Learn about Christina Passmore’s inspirational journey as Colleen Blum talks to her about travle, beauty and when she realized: “I Can Kinda Write”

Flight Attendant, Beauty Brand Amazon Seller turned Successful Copywriting Business CEO

Christina Passmore travels the world as a seasoned flight attendant for a large Canadian Airline, during some big life changes she set out to make some side money and dove into the Amazon world where she she quickly gained good traction in becoming a Beauty Brand Amazon Seller. She was still paying the bills with the airline salary while building her Amazon business all until COVID hit and travel came to a screeching halt. Christina knew she needed to pivot quickly so she teamed up with a mentor of hers where she was asked the question I’m sure we’d ALL dread:

What are you good at?

Who can honestly answer that?! + Add a meaningfully response, when you’re already feeling down? Not many of us.

Christina’s response: “Well I can Kinda write”.

Listen in as she shares her journey & how that “kinda” turned into on going success and continued future dreams. She even drops in some pointers for anyone looking to get started in the e-commerce space. 

Give her a follow on IG @copybychristina

Now Available on your Favorite Podcast Platform

Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/try-and-stop-me/id1525146944?uo=4

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/4h8CgliCHvAZvYl3kXQGOa

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwOj_bbR_Wq2TDdWxtIeG0g

Google Podcast: https://www.google.com/podcasts?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9hbmNob3IuZm0vcy8yYjYzNDViOC9wb2RjYXN0L3Jzcw==



Feature Friday with DYKT? Snippets

“The five most efficient cyber defenders are: Anticipation, Education, Detection, Reaction and Resilience. Do remember: Cybersecurity is much more than an IT topic.” Stephane Nappo

We’re shaking things up here at Did You Know That?  We’re always looking to bring you informative conversations that could better your business and sometimes, your life.  But that doesn’t always have to be in long-form interviews.  So, may we present, drumroll please…

DYKT? Snippets.

DYKT? Snippets will be episodes featuring a collection of short videos on a particular topic.  What that topic may be will always be a surprise.  For this kickoff event, we’re going big with a 2-part premiere episode.

In 2017, the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS) Part 500 cyber regulations went live.  These regulations apply to certain businesses licensed by the NYSDFS to operate in New York.  While the regulations have their shortcomings, in the scope of state-backed cyber laws, they’ve proven to be quite reasonable.  Episodes 1 & 2 will feature videos that outline how businesses can utilize these requirements to get their cyber houses in order.

For context around the videos, here are some links for the regulations & the actual requirements:

Who NYSDFS Supervises: https://www.dfs.ny.gov/who_we_supervise

NYSDFS Industry Definitions: https://www.dfs.ny.gov/institution_definition

NYSDFS Cybersecurity Resource Ctr: https://www.dfs.ny.gov/industry_guidance/cybersecurity

Regulation Sections:

500.02 – Cybersecurity Program

500.03 – Cybersecurity Policy

500.04 – Chief Information Security Officer (exempt)

500.05 – Penetration Testing & Vulnerability Assessments (exempt)

500.06 – Audit Trail (exempt)

500.07 – Access Privileges

500.08 – Application Security (exempt)

500.09 – Risk Assessment

500.10 – Cybersecurity Personnel and Intelligence (exempt)

500.11 – Third Party Service Provider Security Policy

500.12 – Multi-Factor Authentication (exempt)

500.13 – Limitations on Data Retention

500.14 – Training and Monitoring (exempt)

500.15 – Encryption of Nonpublic Information (exempt)

500.16 – Incident Response Plan (exempt)

500.17 – Notices to Superintendent

Music: “Camaro” by Oliver Michael via Artlist



Feature Friday with Jim Mottola

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin

COVID-19 has certainly made its presence felt at the two-decade mark of the 21st Century (both negatively and positively). The current bent of the world toward vaccinations as a prerequisite for reopening naturally leads to a conversation about identification.

Jim Mottola and I talked about this very topic on the premier episode of Everything Cyber, so we’re returning to this fertile ground to address the changes since and possible future of dynamic identification.


James Mottola: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamesmottola/
Sean O’Rourke: https://www.linkedin.com/in/scorcyber/

Music: “Tunnel Vision” by Stanley Gurvich via Artlist