On March 16, 2020, the Insurance Department published Bulletin 2020-1. The bulletin directs carriers to adopt procedures that will encourage employees to use telemedicine in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including for non-emergency medical care. To assist, the following limitations to telemedicine services (found in current Mississippi law) are suspended until April 30, 2020:
- Any limitation on the use of audio-only telephonic consultations
- Any requirement by a health insurance or employee benefit plan that limits coverage to health providers in the plan’s telemedicine network (the intention is that mental health services provided by telemedicine consultations be covered to the same extent that the services would be covered through in-person consultation)
- Any requirement by a health insurance or employee benefit plan that limits coverage to provider or provider consultations only (the intention is that telemedicine consultations between a patient and a provider are covered to the same extent that the services would be covered if they were provided through in-person consultation)
Employers should work with their carriers in reviewing telemedicine options available under their plans in Mississippi.
Bulletin 2020-1 »
On March 25, 2020, the Insurance Department published Bulletin 2020-3. According to the bulletin, the Department is issuing a 60-day moratorium on the cancellation and nonrenewal of policies for the nonpayment of premiums. The moratorium is effective March 24, 2020, and applies to all policies issued for delivery in Mississippi. Importantly, the bulletin directs carriers to work with COVID-19-impacted employers (and other policyholders) in paying premiums that become due during the moratorium period by either allowing a payment plan or a further extension of the due date for the amount in full. The Department also published a set of FAQs to assist carriers in working through moratorium-related situations.
Employers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic should work with their carriers directly in determining whether a payment plan or due date extension is appropriate in their situation.
Bulletin 2020-3 »
On May 8, 2018, Gov. Bryant signed SB 2459 into law, which expands reemployment protections for military service members and veterans. The new law mandates that a service member or veteran be restored to his or her previous position after returning from training with the Armed Forces in another state.
Specifically, employers must allow eligible employees to take an unpaid leave of absence to perform duties or receive training with the US, MS, or another state's armed forces, including active state duty, state training duty, or other military duty authorized under federal armed forces or National Guard law.
Employers must reinstate eligible employees returning from military leave to the same position or a similar position with the same status, pay, and seniority if they’re still qualified to perform the duties of that position. Employees returning to work after military leave must provide evidence of their satisfactory completion of duties or training with the US or MS armed forces.
Importantly, employers may not retaliate or discriminate against employees or applicants who are members of any reserve component of the US armed forces or former members of the US armed forces who were discharged or released from active military duty (except duty for training purposes) under other than for dishonorable conditions. Specifically, employers may not deliberately deny these employees and applicants or discriminate against them in compensation or conditions of employment based on active or former membership. This likely means that benefits offered to non-service member employees must also be provided to employees who are, or were, service members. Employers also can't use threats of physical or other harm to discourage employees or applicants from enlisting in any reserve or active component of the US armed forces.
Employers that violate the retaliation prohibition are subject to criminal prosecution and could be fined, imprisoned for up to six months, or both. Thus, employers in MS should ensure leave and hiring policies and procedures are updated in accordance with these new provisions. This law is effective July 1, 2018.
SB 2459 »
On Jan. 23, 2015, the Mississippi Office of the Attorney General issued Opinion No. 2015-0004 regarding a city that hired an employee who had previously retired from another governmental entity in the state. The rehired retiree was participating in the state health plan. The city asked the Attorney General if it was permissible for them to pay a portion or all of the employee's premium for the state health insurance plan. The opinion states that the practice would be prohibited because state law prohibits a governmental entity from providing extra compensation beyond the terms of the employment contract. The cost of the health insurance premiums would be considered additional compensation.
Opinion No. 2015-004 »