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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    news article

    Relief efforts from Wespath and the CBOPHB during the COVID-19 Crisis—Amendment to Arrearage Policy Enforcement Delay

    April 28, 2020 / By Susan Latessa, UNY Director of Human Resources/Benefits

    The Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits (CBOPHB) amended its former decision to delay the enforcement of the new arrearage policy until June 15, 2020. The only change is the date - the delay of the enforcement of the new arrearage policy is in effect until July 1, 2020.

    In an effort to support Annual Conferences who would like to provide assistance to local churches that may be struggling to meet their monthly obligations, Wespath Benefits and Investments (formerly The General Board), is providing two relief efforts to the Upper NY Conference - one in the form of a deferral (to be repaid at a later date) and the other is a premium waiver that will not require repayment. The CBOPHB has met and voted for this relief to be passed on to the local churches.  

    The relief efforts are:

    1). HealthFlex Premiums:  To allow full-time local churches in need of financial relief during the COVID-19 crisis, to defer (not waive), for 60 days, May and June 2020 HealthFlex (MED) premium payments. Deferral is not mandatory. A church can choose not to defer and continue to make regular monthly HealthFlex (MED) premium payments.

    If a church needs to defer all or part of May and/or June’s HealthFlex (MED) premium payment, the church needs to notify their DS as well as the Benefits Office, in writing, of their need for the deferral. To be eligible for the deferral program, the church must be current with their HealthFlex (MED) premiums as of March 30, 2020.  

    IMPORTANT: If your church has received a PPP loan and you are seeking forgiveness for expenses incurred in May or June, it is possible you may not be able to defer your HealthFlex (MED) premium payments for the same timeframe or that portion may not be eligible for forgiveness. Further guidance from the SBA is forthcoming in relation to forgivable criteria. Please contact the Benefits office if this is a scenario you need to talk through.

    Because some churches may choose not to defer payments, May and June billing statements will continue to show the HealthFlex (MED) premium amount.

    If a deferment of the HealthFlex (MED) premium was requested for the month of May, it should be paid simultaneously with August’s HealthFlex (MED) premium. If a deferment of the HealthFlex (MED) premium was requested for the month of June, it should be paid simultaneously with September’s HealthFlex (MED) premium. Please note that deferments requested for May and/or June may be reflected on July’s billing statement as arrearages but will not be subject to enforcement in accordance to the arrearage policy as long as they are repaid in August and September.

    The CBOPHB is asking churches that can still pay their monthly direct bills on time, to please continue to do so.

    2). CPP Premiums: There will be a 90-day premium holiday (waiver) for the Comprehensive Protection Plan (CPP). Unlike the HealthFlex (MED) premiums, these CPP premiums do not need to be repaid. Your billing statement will still show the premium amount billed but it will also show a premium adjustment credit reflecting the CPP premium being PAID.

    We thank each church for their perseverance and partnership as we continue through this crisis. We continue praying for all of you and those we serve. If you have any questions about these relief efforts, please feel free to contact me at susanlatessa@unyumc.org.


    With more than 144,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 91 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."