Understanding the $900B Stimulus Bill – The Start

Last night (12/21/2020), Congress passed a $900B emergency stimulus package for COVID-19-related relief.  While the bill has to be signed into law, we can provide a basic overview of what’s in it, what’s not, and what’s next.

Understanding the 900B Stimulus Package


Photo by Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash

NYS Extends Marketplace Special Enrollment Period through end of 2020

Governor Cuomo announced on September 16, that New York State residents can enroll in a qualified Marketplace plan using the current COVID19 Special Enrollment Period (SEP) through the end of 2020.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over and it’s more important than ever for New Yorkers to have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York has resources available to help those who need coverage during this difficult time, and anyone who doesn’t currently have health insurance, regardless of the reason, should visit NY State of Health and enroll today.”

New Yorkers should call the Marketplace at 1-855-355-5777 to set up the special enrollment period and choose a plan.   Effective dates are based on enrollment dates:

Enroll by 10/15 for a 10/1 or 11/1 effective date

Enroll between 10/16 – 12/15 2020 will have an effective date of 11/1 or 12/1 2020.

Medicaid, Essential Plan & Child Health Plus programs have open enrollment all year round.  For more details, read the press release HERE.


SDL + GHS, an Insurance Agency, is committed to standing with the Black community and helping to create change around social justice.  On June 19th, SDL + GHS will be closed to allow our staff to take part in local events honoring the historic significance of Juneteenth and honor it in their own way.

At SDL + GHS, we will be including Juneteenth as a permanent paid company day off for our staff and we hope other private and public companies join us.  And we encourage you to join us in calling on our elected officials to make Juneteenth a federally recognized holiday.

Also, our agency is announcing new programs to support Black Lives Matter, Social Justice Reform, diversity, and to further equality in communities of color.

We will be donating to the following organizations and encouraging our team, family, and friends to donate or donate time to them too:



NAACP Legal Defense Fund

New York State

Black Lives Matter Greater NY

In Our Own Voices

Columbia County, NY

Operation Unite

Perfect Ten

Columbia County Sanctuary Movement


Employee Volunteer Engagement: We will be offering 3 paid days off a year for staff to participate in local nonprofit volunteer programming and encouraging them to share their experiences with our team.

Diversity Training:  We are committed to provide diversity education to our agency and our executive team and to support programs to encourage more minority representation in the insurance and financial fields.

This is just the first of many steps we will take, and commit to, as an organization. We look forward to listening to our community, our team, our family, and friends. SDL + GHS is committed to lasting change, equality, and standing as an ally.  Above all – we will listen and learn.

Click here to learn the history behind the holiday: Juneteenth

Bringing Your Employees Safely Back to Work

Are you an employer who is about ready to re-open or have you already reopened?  We are hearing from employers who are reopening, some concerns such as:

  1. Employees not feeling safe to return to work
  2. Employers who work with the general public and working on the implementation of safety precautions
  3. Employers working to ensure they don’t have an outbreak in their workforce

We have found a solution for employers who are looking for a tool to bring their employees back to work and to focus on maintaining a safe work environment.  The program is broken down into three parts:

  1. Employee Testing: COVID 19 Testing and antibody testing
  2. Ongoing Monitoring: daily screening and referrals to telemedicine evaluations & additional COVID19 testing, as needed
  3. Workplace Guidelines: updates to recommendations from both the Medical Community and State and Federal Guidelines.

There are three program tiers:

Tier 1: COVID19 Testing/Anti-body testing/ongoing monitoring/workplace guidelines (for employers with 25 or more employees)

Tier 2: COVID19 Testing/ongoing monitoring/workplace guidelines (for any sized employer)

Tier 3: Ongoing monitoring/workplace guidelines (for any sized employer)

For more details, please contact

Rob Bujan, Managing Director rbujan@grouphealthsolutions.com (917) 514-9462

Client Spotlight: Great White Café – Venice, CA

As SDL + GHS continues to highlight a client who is doing something different when it comes to managing their business during the pandemic, this week our focus is out on the West Coast to sunny California – who is having better weather than we are in the Northeast, as we still struggle with snow showers in May!

Great White Café has had to switch up their normal food and beverage service, as so many in the hospitality industry, have had to.   They’ve shifted to curbside pick up so that diners could still get their favorite breakfast and lunch dishes to satisfy their appetites and a cold or hot beverage, to quench their thirst.  They’ve also been selling their Great White merch to help fund their employee benefits programs.

If you are in the Venice area and find yourself hungry for a meal to go, make sure you stop at Great White Café.

Great White Café

1604 Pacific Ave.

Venice, CA

(424) 744-8403


DOL Updates COBRA Time Frames during the COVID19 Pandemic

The Department of Labor (DOL) has updated participant deadlines extensions, one specifically – for COBRA participants – during the pandemic, or ‘outbreak period’.

What is the Outbreak Period?

The Outbreak Period is the window of time beginning on March 1, 2020, and ending 60 days after the end of the declared national emergency. The national emergency is still ongoing, and the end will vary by region.

COBRA Time frames

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), prescribes time periods for electing coverage, paying premiums, and notifying the plan of certain qualifying events. The final rule extends the following COBRA timeframes:

The following examples illustrate the extensions for qualified beneficiaries to elect and make premium payments for COBRA coverage. For purposes of these examples, the National Emergency ends on April 30, 2020, with the Outbreak Period ending June 29, 2020.

COBRA Election Example

Facts: Individual B works for Employer X and participates in X’s group health plan. Due to the National Emergency, Individual B, who has no other coverage, experiences a reduction of hours below the hours necessary to meet the group health plan’s eligibility requirements (a COBRA qualifying event). Individual B is provided a COBRA election notice on April 1, 2020. What is the deadline for Individual B to elect COBRA?

Conclusion: Disregarding the Outbreak Period, the last day of Individual B’s COBRA election period is 60 days after June 29, 2020, which is August 28, 2020.

COBRA Premium Payment Examples

Facts: On March 1, 2020, Individual C was receiving COBRA continuation coverage. More than 45 days had passed since she elected it. Monthly premium payments are due by the first of the month. The plan does not permit longer than the statutory 30-day grace period for making premium payments. Individual C made a timely February payment, but did not make the March payment or any subsequent payments during the Outbreak Period.

Additional Facts: As of July 1, Individual C has made no premium payments for March, April, May or June. Does Individual C lose COBRA coverage, and if so for which months?

Conclusion: Because the Outbreak Period is disregarded, premium payments for all four months are due 30 days after June 29, 2020. Thus, as long as Individual C makes all of the premium payments by July 29, 2020, she is eligible to receive COBRA continuation coverage during March, April, May and June.

Additional Facts: By July 29, 2020, Individual C made a payment equal to only two months’ worth of premiums. For how long does Individual C have COBRA continuation coverage?

Conclusion: Individual C is entitled to COBRA continuation coverage for March and April, the two months for which timely premium payments were made. She is not entitled to coverage for any month after that.

286851 COVID-19 Relief Extends Certain Employee Benefit Plan Deadlines

This overview is not intended to be exhaustive nor shouldn’t discussion or opinions be constructed as legal advice.  Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.  

Express Scripts – Parachute RX Program

If you find yourself uninsured and have no access to affordable healthcare, CIGNA and Express Scripts has rolled out a program called Parachute RX, during this pandemic.  This is a way to lower your costs on certain generic medications and select brand name medications.

Extra prescription savings for extraordinary times:

Deep discounts on thousands of drugs:

 Express Scripts Parachute Rx, offers deep discounts on thousands of widely used prescription medications

This is not health insurance:

Find out more about the program at Parachute RX


*Inside Rx and Parachute Rx discounts are not insurance and are administered by Inside Rx, LLC, which operates independently from Express Scripts Pharmacy. Discounts on brand medication are not available for persons covered by state or federal-funded programs such as Medicare, Medicaid or TRICARE, even if processed outside the benefit as an uninsured (self-paying) patient. See full terms for Inside Rx and Parachute Rx.

NY Dept of Financial Services: Premium Payment Deferral

On April 7, 2020, The Department of Financial Services issued Emergency Regulation 62, which requires your insurer to provide a 90 day grace period for certain policies that are written in New York State.

Policy Types:

Individual Life Insurance Policies, Annuity Contracts, and Fraternal Benefit Society Certificates

Find the Notice HERE: Life Annuity – Producer Notice NYS Premium

Certain Property & Casualty Policies

FIND THE NOTICE HERE: Property Casualty Producer Notice NYS Premium

If you are an individual, generally, personal lines property/casualty insurance policies are covered by these amendments, including auto, homeowners’ and renters’ insurance.  If you are an individual and an affected policyholder, please contact your insurer or broker if you are uncertain whether your policy is covered.

If you are a small business, only certain types of commercial lines property/casualty insurance policies are covered by these amendments, generally including property, fire, commercial general liability, special multiperil, medical malpractice, workers’ compensation, commercial auto (including livery and other for-hire vehicles), and commercial umbrella insurance. A business qualifies as a “small business” if it is resident in New York State, is independently owned and operated, and employs 100 or fewer individuals.  If you are a small business and an affected policyholder, please contact your insurer or broker if you are uncertain whether your policy is covered.

Certain Health Insurance Policies

FIND THE NOTICE HERE: Ind Small Group – Health – Producer Notice NYS Premium

If you are an individual and purchased an individual health insurance policy.  If you are an individual and an affected policyholder, please contact your insurer or broker if you are uncertain whether your policy is covered.

If you are a small business, A business qualifies as a “small business” if it is resident in New York State, is independently owned and operated, and employs 100 or fewer individuals.  If you are a small business and an affected policyholder, please contact your insurer or broker if you are uncertain whether your policy is covered.

How to Demonstrate Financial Hardship

If you are unable to make a timely premium payment due to financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may submit to your insurer or premium finance agency, as applicable, a statement that you swear or affirm in writing under penalty of perjury that you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which the insurer or premium finance agency, as applicable, shall accept as satisfactory proof.  Such statement is not required to be notarized.

Contact your carrier, or your SDL + GHS Account Executive for more details.


What happens if I lose my job? – 03/28/2020

Losing one’s job is an incredibly stressful situation and during a global pandemic, it can feel impossible to know what to do and where to start.  We’ve gathered some information to assist you in knowing where to begin:

  1. Unemployment – State UI (Unemployment Insurance) departments are overwhelmed – so be prepared that you are going to have to wait to get in contact with someone or get your account set up.  Most states are waiving waiting periods.  Check your state to see if they are doing registration based on alpha last name.  If possible, try to set up your account online and if you have forgotten your password and are having trouble resetting it, there might be ways to find a loophole to get it reset.  (For example: If you are in NY – NYS ID is used across state systems.  If you can’t do a forgotten password on the UI site, see if you can do it on the NY State of Health, or another NYS website.)
  2. The CARES Act, passed this week, expands UI by 13 weeks and adds $600 to the weekly amount an individual would usually receive.  We recommend that you visit your state UI site for specifics and updates, as they are different by state.
  3. Health Insurance – if you lose your health insurance, due to a job loss and have no access or cannot afford COBRA, reach out immediately to your state exchange (or federal exchange), this is a qualifying event.  Find out if you qualify for a subsidy on a qualified health plan, or if you are in a Medicaid expansion state – see if you qualify for Managed Medicaid or other programs.  You will need to have a letter from your employer, on employer letterhead that indicates the termination of your employment.  Most states you will find access to healthcare options at www.healthcare.gov or, as in NYS – you may have your own state exchange – www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov
  4. Are you eligible for Medicare and never enrolled because you had benefits through your job?  A loss of employer coverage gives you a special enrollment period to enroll in Medicare Part B & then into a Medicare Advantage Plan or Supplement Plan.   Contact our offices if you’d like further details on Medicare enrollment at 518-828-1100.
  5. If you need to speak to a mental health professional – there are many resources for you to access.  States have set up free services, as have some insurance companies.  Optum Health has a no-cost program you can access at 1-866-342-6892.

Make sure that you document all your calls, dates, times and with whom you spoke – as details of your conversations are incredibly important.  Get confirmation numbers, if available – to be able to refer back to as you work through these overwhelmed systems.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (updated 3/30/2020)

The Families First Coronovirus Response Act (FFCRA) was passed by Congress and goes into effect on April 1, 2020, and will sunset on December 31, 2020.

There are two components of the legislation:

  1. Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
  2. Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (ER-FMLA)

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

  1. Private employers with fewer than 500 employees
  2. A public agency or other non-private entity with at least 1 employee
  3. Full and part-time – No hours of service requirements
  4. Leave Period: 80 hours a week for Fulltime employees/Number of hours worked on average over a 2-week period for Part-time Employees

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act

  1. Private employers with fewer than 500 employees
  2. A public agency or other non-private entity with at least 1 employee
  3. Employees must have worked 30 calendar days
  4. No hours of service requirements
  5. No requirement for a minimum of 50 employees in a 75-mile radius (unlike standard FMLA)
  6. Leave Period is 12 weeks (2 weeks unpaid and 10 weeks paid)

An employee can apply for leave based on their own illness, a family illness or a reason for school closure.  How do I know if my employee is eligible for one of these benefits?  Find easy to follow flowcharts:

Emergency FMLA Guidelines

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Guidelines

Employers will have the opportunity to reimburse themselves for approved paid leave, using a combination of payroll taxes & reimbursements from the Federal Government.  Find out details on the act here:

(NEW) DOL-Families First-Employer Expanded FMLA Requirements

243616 IRS Issues Guidance on Tax Credits for Coronavirus (COVID-19) Paid Leave

Families First Coronavirus Response Act – Questions and Answers


For more info please email us at: info@weinsurerisk.com