SEB Board approves continuation coverage resolutions related to COVID-19

Fri, 04/03/2020

On April 2, 2020, the School Employees Benefits Board (SEB Board) met telephonically. The Board approved two resolutions related to continuation coverage (COBRA and Unpaid Leave) extending enrollment timelines and the maximum coverage period during the COVID-19 state of emergency proclaimed in Governor Jay Inslee’s Proclamation 20-05. The Board also gave approval to the Health Care Authority to extend enrollment deadlines as needed during the state of emergency.

Policy resolutions

The SEB Board approved the following resolutions:

COVID-19 Continuation Coverage Eligibility (Policy resolution 2020-07)

Beginning February 29, 2020, the date that Governor Inslee declared a state of emergency in Proclamation 20-05, the maximum period of continuation coverage is extended until two months after the date the Governor terminates the state of emergency.

COVID-19 and Enrollment Timelines (Policy resolution 2020-08)

Beginning February 29, 2020, the date that Governor Inslee declared a state of emergency in Proclamation 20-05, any enrollment timelines established for continuation coverage subscribers will be extended to 30 days past the date the Governor terminates the state of emergency.

The Health Care Authority is authorized, during the state of emergency as described above, to extend this deadline further and extend any other enrollment deadlines as needed to meet the needs of the state and SEBB Program subscribers.

Meeting recap

The following information was presented to the SEB Board during the April 2 meeting. See the Briefing Book for all materials presented.

  • Dave Iseminger, Employees and Retirees Benefits (ERB) Division director, explained that for the near future, Board meetings will continue and the staff will work to limit the agenda to urgent COVID-19 matters and other topics that are necessary and routine to achieve the annual work of the Board.
  • Tanya Deuel, ERB finance manager, presented an update of the budget funding approved by the 2020 Legislature. She discussed the per-employee-per-month funding rate, set at $1,000 for the 2020-21 school year. For additional details, see the Briefing Book beginning on page 13.
  • Cade Walker, executive special assistant to the ERB director, reported that ERB staff worked on 384 bills during the legislative session. Of these, four high-priority bills affecting the SEBB Program were passed. Walker also discussed two of these high-priority bills: House Bill 2458 (concerning optional benefits offered by school districts) and Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill (ESSB) 6189 (clarifying eligibility for school employees’ benefits board coverage), both of which have now been signed by the Governor. For additional details, see the Briefing Book beginning on page 19.
  • Dave Iseminger updated the board on HCA’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. He noted that 90 percent of HCA employees and 100 percent of ERB employees are working remotely. He outlined the agency’s actions to the pandemic, including:
    • Securing 200 ventilators and providing 1,000 units of personal protection equipment to the Department of Health.
    • Providing  Zoom licenses to providers across the state to enable telehealth appointments.
    • Releasing disaster funds for hospitals.
    • Requiring pharmacies to refill prescriptions before the usual allowable dates.
    • Providing technical drafting assistance on SEBB benefits eligibility included in ESSB 6189.
  • Jean Bui, ERB Portfolio Management and Monitoring section manager, updated the board on the SEBB Program carriers’ response to the coronavirus pandemic:
    • Delta Dental is providing $10 million in grants and advance claims payments to support dental providers and staff.
    • Kaiser Permanente and Delta Dental are coordinating with some school districts to provide lunches, toothbrushes, and coloring books for students who normally receive free lunches at school.
    • Telehealth efforts have been expanded.
    • A planned enrollment period for long-term disability insurance in May has been postponed until the annual open enrollment period in fall.
  • Rob Parkman, ERB policy and rules coordinator, presented the following three resolutions for later consideration.
    • SEBB 2020-04: Amending SEBB 2019-02 to strike the words "no more" and insert the word "less" in the second bullet. SEBB 2019-02 now reads:

      A SEBB Organization engaging in local negotiations regarding eligibility for school employees under RCW 41.05.740 (6)(e) shall negotiate within the range of anticipated to work hours described below:

      • No less than 180 hours per school year; and
      • Less than the threshold to meet the SEB Board’s eligibility established pursuant to RCW 41.05.740 (6)(d).
    • SEBB 2020-05: Amending SEBB 2018-12 is amended to add the bold text to the end of the resolution and now reads:

      For September each year, a school employee who is establishing eligibility for the employer contribution towards SEBB benefits, and whose first day of work is on or after September 1 but not later than the first day of school for the current school year as established by the SEBB Organization, the effective date of coverage is the first day of work.

      For a school employee who is establishing eligibility and whose first day of work is at any other time during the school year, the effective date of coverage is the first day of the month following the day the school employee establishes eligibility for the employer contribution toward SEBB benefits. 

      Except that, when a school employee establishes eligibility for the employer contribution towards SEBB benefits at any time in the month of August, SEBB benefits begin on September 1 only if the school employee is anticipated to work 630 hours in the coming school year.

    • SEBB 2020-06: Error Correction for Incorrect Information

      If a SEBB Organization or a contracted vendor provides incorrect advice regarding SEBB benefits to a school employee that they relied upon, the error will be corrected prospectively with enrollment in benefits effective the first day of the month following the date the error is identified. The Health Care Authority approves all error correction actions and determines if additional recourse is warranted.

Parkman presented two resolutions to the Board for an immediate vote. Both resolutions were approved unanimously.

  • SEBB 2020-07: COVID-19 Continuation Coverage Eligibility was approved as described at the beginning of this announcement.
  • SEBB 2020-08: COVID-19 Enrollment Timelines was approved as described at the beginning of this announcement.

Next meeting

The SEB Board meets next on May 7, 2020. The board will consider the three policy resolutions presented at the April 2 meeting and will hear a presentation on optional benefits.

If the Governor’s emergency proclamation is still in effect at that time, board members and the public will only be able to attend this meeting via telephone. The call-in number will be noted on the meeting agenda, which will be posted on the SEB Board Meetings and materials webpage.

For more information

You can find more information on the SEBB Program webpage.