On April 28, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a joint statement providing for temporary relief from certain timing requirements with respect to COBRA, HIPAA special enrollment and benefit claims (filing, appeal, external review). A final rule was also released, further detailing the relief. The final rule requires plans to disregard the “Outbreak Period” for purposes of the following timing requirements:
The “Outbreak Period” is defined in the final rule as the period beginning on March 1, 2020, and ending 60 days after the announced end of the COVID-19 national emergency or such other date announced by the agencies in a future notification.
Assumes National Emergency is lifted on May 15th (with the Outbreak Period then ending on July 14th, the 60th day after the end of the National Emergency).
New Model COBRA Notices:
On May 1, 2020, the DOL released Frequently Asked Questions and updated the General and Initial COBRA Notices for immediate use. The new notices can be found here. The updated notices include language to assist those employees approaching Medicare eligibility. These notices should be used as soon as administratively possible. For those employers utilizing a third party to administer COBRA, best practice would be to confirm the new forms are being utilized.