The Biden Administration announced on January 30 its intent to end the public health emergency and national emergency on May 11, 2023. In March of 2020, President Trump issued the emergency declaration in response to the nation’s COVID-19 crisis. President Biden extended the national emergency again on February 18, 2022. Nearly three years later, the funding, programs and regulatory provisions put in place to support the public during the pandemic are about to end.For plan sponsors, many benefit-related deadlines were extended as part of the national emergency, such as COBRA election and payments periods. Given the deadline extensions are about to come to an end, plan sponsors should work with COBRA and other third-party administrators in preparation for the rule changes affecting
- election periods for COBRA continuation coverage,
- COBRA premium payments,
- HIPAA special enrollments, and
- claims, adverse decision appeals and external reviews.
While May 11 is significant, it’s the 60 days following the end of the national emergency, referred to as the “outbreak period,” that are tied to the expiration of benefit-related provisions defined by the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in a 2020 notice. Based on the 60-day timeline, the above benefit-related changes will take effect July 10, 2023.
Note: Recent proposals in the House of Representatives would immediately end the COVID-19 national emergency rather than wait until May 11. The White House responded that advance notice, rather than a sudden withdrawal, is needed to avoid chaos within the nation’s health care system.
For additional information, contact your Bukaty benefits consultant at 913.345.0440.