Vol. XIX, Issue 85

December 22, 2020

COVID-19 Update—Congress Approves Pandemic Relief Bill

On Monday, December 21, 2020, both chambers of Congress passed a bill—the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021—that combines additional COVID-19 pandemic relief with a government funding plan, tax extenders and medical transparency in billing, among numerous other provisions. The COVID relief portion of the massive omnibus bill, long awaited and heavily negotiated, is focused on economic stimulus measures and funding for the federal response to the pandemic. President Trump is expected to sign the bill.

Highlights of the nearly 5,600-page bill include these economic stimulus features:

In addition to economic stimulus features, the bill provides funding for the governmental response to the pandemic, including funds for the purchase of vaccines, for vaccine distribution to ensure broad access, and for additional testing.

It also includes a section entitled "Preventing Surprise Medical Bills," which addresses the participation of out-of-network providers in emergency rooms or other procedures.

In addition, the bill includes temporary special rules for cafeteria plans, permitting amendments which could allow participants with dependent care assistance program accounts or health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to carry over unused contributions or benefits from 2020 into 2021. The bill also includes retirement plan provisions that may affect Wespath's plans.

Wespath will continue to monitor developments and assess the contents of the bill and its potential impact on UMC annual conferences, local churches and clergy/lay employees (assuming the President signs the bill into law). We will publish additional information after further analysis and as guidance emerges in the new year.

Holiday Closing: Christmas and New Year's Day

Wespath will close at 3:00 p.m., Central time, on Thursday, December 24, and will remain closed through Friday, December 25, in observance of Christmas. Customer Service assistance will be unavailable during this time.

Wespath will also be closed on Friday, January 1, in observance of New Year's Day. Customer Service assistance will be unavailable that day as well.

Benefits Access for participants can be used to access account information and complete transactions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The automated phone system, accessible by calling 1-800-851-2201, will also be available for participants.

The Wespath Institutional Investor Portal and Benefit Access Portal for Plan Sponsors will be available to plan sponsors, conferences and institutions.

Wespath Market Update

Read our latest Wespath Market Update, a weekly investment summary that succinctly recaps economic and financial market activity for the prior week. If you, or others, wish to receive this email update, please send your contact information (name, email and organization) to InvestmentInfo@wespath.org.

NEW! Fiduciary Focus Educational Series Paper

Read the next piece in our Fiduciary Focus educational series, "Spending Policies for Endowments and Foundations." In this paper we shares insights on the different types of spending policies to help investment decision makers find the right balance between performance objectives and annual spending.

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