News You Need: A National & State Update on Cancer-Related Legal Issues

We know that a lot is uncertain this morning about our country, and we will continue to update you on the way that proposed and actual changes to our health care system and other areas of law may impact the cancer community.

But here is some information that we do know:

National News

  • Qualified tenants can access a nationwide temporary halt on residential evictions for nonpayment of rent. The Centers for Disease Control issued a moratorium that is scheduled to end on December 31, 2020. It is not automatic and tenants must take action to qualify. Under the moratorium, tenants cannot be evicted for not paying their rent if they are below certain income limits and can demonstrate certain hardships. No rent will be forgiven and will become due when the protection ends. Tenants can use this tool to determine if they qualify for the moratorium, which also generates a customized letter that tenants can download or email to their landlords. While the eviction moratorium is in some ways broader than the previous moratorium under the CARES Act, it does not provide additional support to housing providers.


  • Social Security Administration announced a new online option for those required to submit a Continuing Disability Review. Formerly, recipients could only mail in their review. Access the online tool here.


  • U.S. Department of Labor rolled out new model forms for the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). These optional use forms are for employers to provide required notices to employees, and for employees to provide certification related to leave. These are available here.


  • IRS has made it easier for employers to allow workers to make adjustments to their health insurance plans and flexible spending accounts. Normally, strict rules prevent employees from making such changes in the middle of the year. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, employers can opt in to give employees the flexibility to allow workers to sign up or drop out of health insurance outside of the usual enrollment period.

Health Insurance Marketplace Updates – Open Enrollment Has Begun!

People in 36 states access the Health Insurance Marketplace through www.HealthCare.gov. Enrollment runs November 1 to December 15.

14 states and the District of Columbia run their own Health Insurance Marketplaces. Residents of New Jersey and Pennsylvania will use state-run marketplaces for the first time in 2020. Want to learn more about Health Insurance Marketplaces? Check out our newly released Quick Guide to State Health Insurance Marketplaces

New Mexico, Kentucky, and Maine have plans to join the list of states running their own Health Insurance Marketplaces in 2021. Georgia plans to join the list in 2022.

State News

Voters in New Jersey, Arizona and Montana backed measures to legalize recreational marijuana, while South Dakota became the first state to approve both recreational and medical marijuana at the same time. Mississippians, meanwhile, voted to create a medical marijuana program that will allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients with 22 qualifying conditions. For information about your state’s laws, visit https://TriageCancer.org/StateLaws.

California: Beginning January 1, 2021, California employers with five or more workers are required to offer 12 weeks of unpaid time off for family leave. Formerly, companies with 50 or more employees are required to provide 12 weeks of leave to care for a new child or family member.

For parental leave, workers at companies with 20 or more employees can access 12 weeks of job-protected time off. In addition, the new law requires employers to provide this leave for spouses who work for the same company, instead of permitting employers to require parents to split the time off.

California workers already pay into a paid family leave program, which provides eight weeks of partial pay at 60% to 70% of their salary. But many workers, especially low-wage earners, were afraid to access the benefit for fear that their job would not be protected while they were on leave. The new law ensures workers have a job to return to.

Another California law gives all workers who test positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus access to paid sick time. Employers who do not provide sick days can be penalized by California’s Labor Commissioner.

Michigan: Michigan became the 31st state to ban balance billing by medical providers. This occurs when a patient, often unknowingly, receives care from a provider who is considered out-of-network. Under Michigan’s new law, patients are no longer caught in the middle. Insurance companies and out-of-network providers are subject to cost limits and must negotiate with each other.[/vc_column_text]


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Monica Bryant