COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Previous Revision: September 3, 2020
Current Revision: October 9, 2020

 

Defined Benefit Pension


Question:
Will CPF waive clergy pension assessments under certain circumstances?

Answer:
CPF has an existing policy, approved by the CPF Board of Trustees more than 10 years ago and recently affirmed, that allows us to provide temporary relief to parishes whose ability to function is severely impaired following a major disaster (such as a state of emergency).

CPF is offering the neediest and hardest hit congregations temporary waivers of the Clergy Pension Plan assessment owed to The Church Pension Fund for a period of up to four months during the COVID-19 crisis. We are processing applications now. 

To qualify, a diocesan bishop of The Episcopal Church must certify the following:

  1. The senior-most government official in his or her nation, state, or region has declared a major disaster (such as a state of emergency),
  2. as a direct result of the disaster, the ability of each parish seeking relief to function has been severely impaired, and
  3. there are inadequate resources (including endowments) within the affected congregation and diocese to pay assessments and continue to function.

Please contact your diocesan bishop to discuss a waiver.

 

Question:
What is the process for requesting a waiver?

Answer:
Your diocesan bishop must complete this form and return it to the CPG Account Manager in your region for processing. You can find your account manager at cpg.org/ibams.

 

Question:
Can we decide which four months are waived?

Answer:
Yes, your diocesan bishop should indicate on the form which four months are to be waived.

 

Question:
If a cleric’s retirement date is imminent and the retirement application/ paperwork is signed, is there any possibility of changing the effective date of retirement, assuming the cleric agrees to such a change?

Answer:
Yes, a cleric may contact Client Services by phone or email to discuss changing his or her effective date of retirement as long as the cleric does so prior to the retirement date. However, if the retirement date changes by more than two months, a new application with the canonical bishop’s signature is required.

If a cleric has already retired, he or she may be able to return to work under the Working While Pensioned rules or, if not, by returning to active service and having his or her pension suspended.

 

Question:
Will future pension checks be mailed as scheduled?

Answer:
Pension benefit payments will post as regularly scheduled, and we do not anticipate any disruption in the distribution of future benefit payments.

 

Defined Contribution Retirement Plans

Retirement Savings Plan (RSVP) and Lay Defined Contribution Plan (Lay DC Plan)


Question:
Can eligible plan participants take a hardship withdrawal, loan or delay repayment of an existing loan from the RSVP or Lay DC Plan?

Answer:
Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020. Under the CARES Act, certain retirement account rules have been relaxed for eligible individuals affected by the COVID-19 virus. To read more about these provisions, please visit Fidelity Investments

 

Question:
Have any changes been made that will allow plan participants to access their funds more quickly?

Answer:
In order to access their funds more quickly, Fidelity has implemented a Zero-Day Wait Electronic Funds Transfer process. Plan Participants can add their bank account information and have the proceeds for eligible distributions deposited electronically into your account without the typical 10-day wait time to add a new bank account. Two-factor authentication will be required, and they will receive real-time alerts via text and email, and a mailed postcard once their account has been updated. Direct deposit will be limited to $50,000 per day during the first 10 calendar days after setup.

This update must be made online by visiting Fidelity NetBenefits® at www.cpg.org/myaccount. Once logged-in, they will need to access the Bank/Tax Information tab. They then click Designate Bank Account under the Bank Account for Direct Deposit section in the middle of the page.

 

Question:
How do plan participants access their account in the RSVP or Lay DC Plan?

Answer:
Visit Fidelity NetBenefits® at www.cpg.org/myaccount, or call a Fidelity representative at (877) 208-0092.

 

Question:
Can CPF waive employer contributions to the RSVP or Lay DC plan?

Answer:
CPF cannot waive employer contributions to the RSVP or Lay DC plan.

An employer may choose to amend its adoption agreement to decrease or stop employer contributions on a prospective basis by completing and submitting an Amended Application form. Lay Pension System rules still apply.

If employees are not receiving eligible compensation, employer contributions may not be required, depending on what the employer has elected in its current adoption agreement.

Note: Lay Pension System contributions are governed by LPS Resolution A138.

 

Health & Welfare, P&C, Church Life, and Disability


Question:
Some non-exempt employees may be at risk of falling below 1,000 compensated hours per plan year due to work-at-home and stay-home policies/orders. Are these employees still eligible for coverage under the Medical Trust’s Episcopal Health Plan?

Answer:
When determining whether a non-exempt employee meets the eligibility rules under the Medical Trust’s Episcopal Health Plan, the employer should look to whether a non-exempt employee is normally scheduled to work 1,000 or more compensated hours per plan year.

Since eligibility for non-exempt employees is based on normally scheduled hours, such non-exempt employees should still be eligible for coverage under the Episcopal Health Plan, provided that the employee is expected to return to his or her normally scheduled hours once the stay-at-home policies/order ends.

 

Question:
If a full-time non-exempt employee’s hours are permanently reduced and they fall below the employer’s rule regarding eligibility for health benefits, will this trigger an Extension of Benefits (EOB) offer so the employee can continue his or her benefits by paying for them personally?

Answer:
Yes, a permanent reduction in work hours that would make an employee ineligible for employer provided health benefits would trigger an Extension of Benefits (EOB) offer.

 

Question:
If we furlough employees, how long can the furlough last before the employees become ineligible for health benefits?

Answer:
Assumptions:

  • An employee furlough is a mandatory suspension from work without pay.
  • The length of the furlough may be as brief or as long as the employer wants.
  • Furloughed employees are not engaging in any form of work on behalf of their employer whatsoever.
  • Furloughed employees have an expectation that they will return to work.
  • A furloughed employee may be eligible for or receiving unemployment benefits, subject to the applicable state laws.

In this scenario, furloughed employees may retain their CPG employee benefits, including pension, life and health, or terminate their coverage. The employer will not enter a termination of benefits in CPG’s systems (Employee Roster and MLPS). The employer must continue making payments for all applicable CPG employee benefits in order for benefits to remain in effect. The employee will remain eligible until the employer processes a termination of benefits in CPG systems or in the event of another situation that may result in a termination of benefits. Important Note: If there is no expectation that the employee will return to work, the action should be considered a termination rather than a furlough. Benefits should be terminated in CPG systems, and an Extension of Benefits for medical and/or dental benefits will be initiated.

Important Note: Individuals that are furloughed (but not terminated) can still be covered under the Medical Trust health plan indefinitely until further notice. This is a temporary rule adjustment during the COVID-19 crisis. If there is no expectation that the employee will return to work, the action should be considered a termination rather than a furlough. Benefits should be terminated in CPG systems, and an Extension of Benefits offer for medical and/or dental benefits will be initiated.

 

Question:
If an active Medical Trust health plan member is unable to have an in-person office visit with his or her healthcare provider because the provider’s office is closed, will virtual visits be permitted?

Answer:
In response to COVID-19, effective March 1, 2020, the Medical Trust is allowing claims for virtual visits with network and out-of-network providers that do not use a telehealth platform offered by Anthem or Cigna. Standard levels of benefits and coverage will otherwise apply. This is an exception for medical and behavioral health services rendered through at least December 31, 2021.

NOTE:  Virtual visits are not available to Kaiser members. Kaiser members must use the Kaiser telehealth platform for telehealth services.

 

Question:
Will Anthem, Cigna, or Kaiser’s telehealth platforms have member cost shares?

Answer:
Effective March 1, 2020, the Medical Trust is waiving member cost shares if a member uses a telehealth platform offered by Anthem, Cigna, or Kaiser Permanente (e.g., Anthem’s LiveHealth Online, AmWell for Cigna,* MDLive for Cigna, etc.). This cost share waiver applies for covered services rendered through a vendor telehealth platform through December 31, 2021.

* Beginning January 1, 2021, Cigna will no longer be offering virtual services through AmWell. MDLive will be the primary virtual care vendor for Cigna members, along with virtual care offered by in-network providers.

 

Question:
What if an active Medical Trust Cigna Dental plan member is unable to have an in-person office visit with their dental provider because the provider’s office is closed?

Answer:
In response to COVID-19, the Medical Trust will allow members enrolled in a Cigna Dental plan to have a consultation with a Cigna Dental Virtual dentist through a video call using Cigna Dental Virtual Care. Cigna Dental Virtual Care is available to active members of a Medical Trust Cigna dental plan 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and member cost shares are waived through July 31, 2020. Please note that cost shares for certain benefits, such as prescription drugs, may still apply. The service will continue to be available after July 31, 2020.

Access Cigna Virtual Dental Care by logging into your my.Cigna.com account and following the prompts to the Cigna Dental Virtual Care portal. Once you’ve entered the online portal through my.Cigna.com, you will be prompted to create an account on “The TeleDentists” website and provide basic health information. You will be prompted to download and install a video chat application, and then confirm whether you want to see a dentist now, or schedule an appointment for a later time. Please note that your personal dentist may not be available through the Cigna Virtual Dental Care platform.

 

Question:
How is the Medical Trust supporting members who incur healthcare out-of-pocket expenses related to COVID-19?

Answer:
Pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which became law on March 18, 2020, The Episcopal Church Medical Trust (the Medical Trust) will waive all co-pays, deductibles, and coinsurance for its members for healthcare services relating to the evaluation and testing for COVID-19. In addition, the Medical Trust will waive all co-pays, deductibles, and in-network coinsurance for its active members for healthcare services relating to the treatment of COVID-19. The Medical Trust will continue to waive the out-of-pocket costs described above through at least December 31, 2021.

We have updated the Summaries of Benefits and Coverage, which are available at cpg.org.

If you encounter claim issues or if you have questions, please call the member service number on the back of your identification card. A health plan representative can help you resolve any confusion.

NOTE: COVID-19 evaluation and testing is a benefit exclusion under all active Medical Trust health plans where it is part of an employer’s return to work policy. 

For retirees enrolled in a Medical Trust Medicare Supplement Plan with United Healthcare, Medicare has announced that there will be no out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 lab tests. For more information regarding Medicare benefits and additional information, please visit https://www.medicare.gov/medicare-coronavirus.

 

Question:
Will CPG waive monthly contributions for medical, dental, disability, and/or life?

Answer:
We are unable to waive monthly contributions for medical, dental, disability and/or life coverage. Waiving contributions would put a significant strain on health plan reserves and could have a long-term impact to the health plans’ viability.

 

Question:
Will CPG extend the grace periods for cancellation of group benefits or property & casualty insurance coverage beyond the June 30, 2020, date?

Answer:
CPG will not extend the grace periods for cancellation of group benefits or property & casualty insurance coverage. The 90-day grace period provided earlier this year, combined with CPG’s current collection process, allows a client 150 days to pay a premium amount due in April, 2020. As an example, if a client has not paid a premium amount due on April 1, CPG would not consider canceling before September 1.

However, CPG will offer a payment plan for premiums not paid for April, May, or June. If a client does not avail themselves of the payment plan option or pay their balance in full when due, CPG will commence its normal collection process.

 

Question:
If an employee covered under a Zurich short-term disability policy or Church Pension Fund Clergy Short-Term Disability Plan are quarantined based on the provider’s orders, is he or she eligible for short-term disability benefits?

Answer:
If you are symptom-free without a positive COVID-19 test result at the beginning of the 14-day quarantine period and you develop symptoms, or if you receive a positive test result during the 14-day quarantine period, the days that you were not working will count toward your 14-day short-term disability elimination period.

Please contact Zurich directly at 800-206-8826 if you have additional questions.

 

Question:
What can members of the Medical Trust’s active and retiree Express Scripts prescription drug plans do to ensure they continue to have access to an adequate supply of prescription medications?

Answer:
Express Scripts and the Medical Trust are monitoring the situation closely and will update our information and policy if or when the situation changes. We are committed to taking appropriate actions to ensure active and retired employees have the medication on hand to keep them healthy. Should an employee have any questions or concerns about his or her individual situation, Express Scripts pharmacists are available 24/7.

If the employee currently fills 30-day supplies of his or her medication at a local pharmacy and would like the convenience of a longer-term supply, the employee can ask his or her physician to write a prescription (if applicable) for a 90-day supply. Then the employee should fill their prescription at Express Scripts Home Delivery. Express Scripts Member Services can help the employee get started.

Active Express Scripts Members: (800) 841-3361

EGWP Express Scripts Members: (866) 544-6963

www.express-scripts.com/login

Express Scripts Retail Shipping Options:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, effective March 25, 2020, Express Scripts granted CVS and Walgreens (via their Walgreens Express™ delivery program) a limited out-of-network delivery exception and will permit them to provide free home delivery of prescriptions to Express Scripts’ members in a manner that would otherwise be prohibited. This temporary exception is due solely to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be reviewed by Express Scripts to determine if it is still necessary.

Contact Express Scripts Member Services for more information about how to access this out-of-network delivery exception.

Can prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies be shipped to members?

Indeed. Before COVID-19, Express Scripts’ networks included tens of thousands of providers who offer delivery to patients. This continues. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Express Scripts has created an exception for CVS and Walgreens to provide delivery to their patients. This exception is important to meet our patients’ needs, but is also required because these providers frequently use mail-order services to execute delivery. This delivery service is available at no additional cost to patients. All CVS and Walgreens retail locations have been notified.

Please note that as of March 30, Rite Aid has confirmed they will also offer courier delivery for free. For a member to utilize, the member must call the store directly to enroll.

How can a member request delivery from their CVS, Walgreens or Rite Aid retail pharmacy?

CVS: Members can request delivery in the following ways:

  • Mobile web: This is accessible through the Order Ready Text message when a prescription is ready for pickup. The member simply clicks the link and requests delivery (the member is required to enroll in text messages from CVS)
  • CVS App: Similar to mobile web, but no text messaging requirement
  • Call your local pharmacy: Members should note that with this option, they may experience longer-than-average wait times.

Walgreens: the member must be enrolled in Walgreens Express™ delivery program. The member should opt in to receive text messages. When the prescription is ready for pickup, the member will receive a text, which will offer them the option of delivery. A Walgreens Express™ flyer is available to share with clients as needed.

Rite Aid: The member must call the store directly to enroll.

What delivery services are utilized by CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid retail pharmacies?

  • CVS: CVS uses a variety of courier services, including the USPS courier service. Delivery is 1-2 days. Please note same-day delivery is not available.
  • Walgreens: Walgreens uses FedEx next-day delivery.
  • Rite Aid: Rite Aid uses a courier service.

What other home delivery options are available?

Express Scripts pharmacy provides free standard shipping on medications to all our members and as part of our standard processes and procedure. In situations where patients may need expedited shipping, our pharmacists are available 24/7 to provide counseling and answer any questions patients may have in regard to making sure they have medication on hand when they need it. Where needed, our pharmacy can provide expedited shipping with no additional fee. In addition, most retail pharmacies offer local delivery options. Express Scripts recommends that members reach out to their local pharmacy directly to determine whether they are offering delivery service at this time.

Contact Express Scripts Member Services for more information about how to access this out-of-network delivery exception.

 

Question:
What resources can the Medical Trust offer to dioceses to support their parishes through this crisis?

Answer:
To help address emotional, physical, and family needs, the Medical Trust offers the Cigna Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to members of our medical plans, their covered dependents, and any other household members. This benefit provides immediate help, referrals, and resources. The plan covers unlimited telephone consultations and up to 10 face-to-face counseling sessions per issue at no member cost. Access Cigna EAP benefits 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling (866) 395-7794 or by visiting mycigna.com.

Please watch cpg.org for webinars that may become available periodically.

 

General


Question:
We are developing our return to work policy and will require employees to have taken a COVID-19 test/antibody test. Will this test be covered by our Medical Trust health plans?
Question:
The state health department is requiring our employees to have regular testing for COVID-19, will that be covered by our Medical Trust health plans at no cost?

Answer:
Pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the Medical Trust health plans cover the cost of COVID-19 testing and treatment for individuals only when it is deemed medically appropriate as determined by the individual’s attending health care provider. Consistent with current and past policy, the Medical Trust health plans do not cover the cost of employer or state mandated screening or treatment.

Although the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides for no-cost coverage of COVID-19 testing, tri-agency guidance issued on April 11, 2020 clarified that, “these items and services must be covered without cost sharing when medically appropriate for the individual, as determined by the individual’s attending healthcare provider in accordance with accepted standards of current medical practice.” In addition, the Medical Trust health plans only cover healthcare expenses for which the member is legally obligated to pay and specifically excludes from coverage screening procedures and immunizations necessitated by employment. 

The Department of Labor (DOL) recently (06/23/2020) provided further clarity as to what is required to be covered under section 6001 of the FFCRA. To read the DOL FAQ document, you may click here (Q5 on page 6 of the DOL document addresses “testing for surveillance or employment purposes...”)

The Medical Trust health plans do not cover COVID-19 testing when mandated by employers as part of their screening process or required by law, e.g., “return to work” COVID-19 screening in the absence of any medical necessity. Employers should work with their state’s Department of Health to identify available support for COVID-19 testing and should follow guidelines for testing as part of any return to work plan.

Additional information about plan exclusions can be found in each health plan handbook.

 
Question:
What if a plan participant receives a collection letter for any group product or pension plan from Church Pension Group?

Answer:
We are suppressing collection letters for all group products and pension plans offered through CPG for the months of April, May, and June. If you receive a collection letter, please contact Client Services Administrator Service Line at (855) 215-5990.

For members seeking assistance regarding coverage under the Medical Trust’s extension of benefits or personal pension payments under The Church Pension Fund Clergy Pension Plan, members may call CPG at (866) 802-6333.

 

Question:
Will CPG make any change to notary requirement policies?

Answer:
At this time, CPG is not making any changes to our notary requirements (e.g., spousal waiver for pension). You may wish to contact local notary locations, such as a UPS Store or a local bank, to find an available notary.

Note that many states are allowing some form of remote online notarization; please check with your local notary locations to see if this is available to you.

We will continue to review and adjust our policies as necessary.

 

Question:
How does the current stock market volatility affect The Church Pension Fund?

Answer:
We want you to know that the financial health of The Church Pension Fund (CPF) remains strong. The volatile market conditions that we are experiencing have a negative effect on the value of the assets in our pension plans, but we expect and prepare for events like these.

For further information, please watch the video on cpg.org for a personal message from Roger Sayler, Executive Vice President, Chief Investment Officer.

 

Question:
Is there anything administrators can do to assist CPG in getting important messages delivered to clergy?

Answer:
As always, CPG values the role our administrators have in the important process of communicating with clergy and lay employees. Communication is key. Please feel free to share information received from CPG with clergy and lay employees, and other church volunteers and leaders with whom CPG is unable to communicate at this time.

If you have feedback or questions you would like to discuss, please contact your IBAMS account manager who can share your feedback with senior leadership.

 

Question:
Will upcoming CPG events such as the Benefits Partnership Conference be cancelled?

Answer:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended cancelling large gatherings. As a result, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the May Benefits Partnership Conference and the April Insights & Ideas event on socially responsible investing. We will be in contact with those of you who have already registered for these conferences and will let you know if we are able to reschedule them. We appreciate your patience.

In addition, because we have asked our employees to stay at home and work remotely for now, we are postponing all live Education & Wellness events (Planning for Wellness, CREDO, Enriching Your Retirement, Chaplains Conferences) until further notice.

 

Question:
Where can I get more information about the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act?

Answer:
There are other provisions in the CARES Act that may provide financial support to churches and terminated employees during this difficult time. Please reach out to your Chancellor for additional information on the financial support that may be available to you under the CARES Act.

 

Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be viewed as investment, tax, or other advice. It does not constitute a contract or an offer for any products or services. In the event of a conflict between this material and the official plan documents or insurance policies, any official plan documents or insurance policies will govern. The Church Pension Fund (“CPF”) and its affiliates (collectively, “CPG”) retain the right to amend, terminate, or modify the terms of any benefit plan and/or insurance policy described in this material at any time, for any reason, and, unless otherwise required by applicable law, without notice.