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Understanding the Cyber and Privacy Risks Of Zoom and Tips For Using It More Securely /

Understanding the Cyber and Privacy Risks Of Zoom and Tips For Using It More Securely

By now everyone has now heard of — and likely used — Zoom for staying connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. In what may have been a brilliant strategy to gain market share during adverse times, Zoom offered its videoconferencing service for free to schools, organizations, businesses, and individuals as a means of staying connected while the world is exercising social distancing and it seems as if everyone is now using Zoom.

Summary of Tax Provisions of the CARES ACT Passed on March 27, 2020

Below is a summary of the individual and business tax provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, signed by President Trump on March 27, 2020. For provisions relating to retirement plans, please click here for a summary by Spencer Fane’s Employee Benefits Group.

Title Insurance Issues Relating to COVID-19: Lender Recommendations

This memorandum is in regard to some of the changes we are seeing in the title insurance industry due to COVID-19. While the issues and impact may vary slightly by county and by title company, this memorandum addresses the following three (3) recurring concerns:

  • Delays in recording and delay affidavits;
  • The requirement of a gap indemnity agreement to be signed at closing; and
  • Exceptions to title related to COVID-19.

Prohibition on Beneficiary Inducements Hinders Rural Hospital Efforts to Aid Communities During COVID-19 Outbreak

During times of national or local crisis, people often look to the pillars of their communities, local employers, charities and other publicly-supported institutions, to provide much needed resources and stability.  In many rural communities, the local hospital fits into all three categories being one of the largest (if not they largest) local employer, charity and publicly-supported institution in the community (other than the local government).  As a result, people often look to hospitals during times of crisis, not just for healthcare services but also for the other resources needed in their lives (e.g., food, housing, financial assistance, etc.).

COVID-19 Resources

As COVID-19 continues to spread, so does its impact on employers, health care providers, financial institutions, real estate entities, fiduciaries, and small businesses. Spencer Fane has created a COVID-19 Resources page to serve as a resource to all individuals and entities grappling with the consequences of this ordeal, and will be updated as new developments take place.

It’s Time to Establish (or Re-Constitute) an Ethics Committee

With the potential of scarce resources resulting from the COVID-19 virus, rural hospitals should consider taking immediate action to establish or reconstitute a hospital ethics committee. Although relatively common in large urban hospitals, in our experience ethics committees are relatively rare in rural hospitals. In rural settings, “typical” ethics issues such as end-of-life decisions are often resolved through informal interactions among patients, families, physicians, and administration. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to (if it has not already) raise not-so-typical issues for hospitals that will require a more structured approach. It is likely that hospitals will face issues never before considered about how to ethically apportion scarce resources such as masks, gowns, respirators, ICU beds, and ventilators.

Employee Benefits in the Age of COVID-19: Brief Answers to Some Common Health Plan Questions

As we are all now intimately aware, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the nature of the workplace, and all of the benefits, rights, and responsibilities arising out of employment.  We are operating under a new set of rules, and those rules are changing daily.  Employers’ efforts to manage their workforce in order to maintain fiscal viability while protecting the health of employees also affect benefits.  The cascading effect of these factors raises many thorny benefits questions.  We will summarize – and attempt to answer – a few of those questions here (based on the legal landscape as of March 31, 2020).

“CARES” Act and Defined Benefit Plans

The CARES Act signed by President Trump on March 27, 2020, includes relief for defined contribution plans, but defined benefit plans also received some relief.  In addition, the IRS issued guidance that includes an extension for employers to adopt a pre-approved defined benefit plan.  And, employers should remember their option to decrease the age at which employees may request an in-service withdrawal from defined benefit plans.

New Blanket Waivers of the Stark Law During COVID-19 Outbreak

On March 30, 2020, Alex M. Azar II, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, under the authority given to him under Section 1135(b) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. §1320b-5)[1], issued a series of waivers of the Stark Law (42 U.S.C. §1395nn).[2] Unlike the case-by-case waivers of the Stark Law that Secretary Azar previously gave the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) authority to issue to individual designated health services providers based on their specific request[3], the Stark Law waivers issued by the Secretary on March 30 apply to all designated health services providers.  As a result, these Stark Law waivers are referred to as blanket waivers.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Announces Regulatory Flexibility Amidst COVID-19 Impact

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (“MPCA”) has announced a process for regulated entities seeking regulatory flexibility that may have an unavoidable noncompliance situation that is directly due to an impact from the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency, declared by Governor Walz in Emergency Executive Order 20-01.

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