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COBRA is Temporarily Social Distancing From its Election and Payment Deadlines

The IRS and DOL issued guidance on May 4, 2020 that adds a new level complexity to COBRA administration for employer-sponsored plans. In short, the relief suspends many key participant deadlines during the so-called “Outbreak Period.” The new rules define “Outbreak Period” to mean the period beginning March 1, 2020 and ending 60 days following the expiration of the National Emergency declaration related to COVID-19 (or at some other time in the future if the agencies decide to change the date).

DOL Releases New Model COBRA Notices Amid Continued Wave of Litigation

On May 1, 2020, the Department of Labor released new versions of its model COBRA notices, adding a new action item for employers facing a contracting workforce and a growing wave of participant litigation.

New Model COBRA Notices and Emergency Extensions to COBRA Deadlines Require Employers to Take Action

The Department of Labor (DOL) and other federal regulators released updates and clarifications related to employee benefits, including updates to model COBRA notices and an extension of certain statutory deadlines intended to minimize the possibility of participants and beneficiaries losing benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. This article highlights the DOL’s recent changes and updates relating to Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).

COBRA Notice Litigation: Cases Are Mushrooming and Settlements Are Too

Imagine something as simple as a COBRA notice that complies with law, but is not identical to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) model notice, leading to six- or seven-figure class action litigation settlements?

COBRA Notice Litigation Resulting in Big Dollar Claims

Can you imagine something as simple as a COBRA Notice missing a few technical requirements resulting in an employer needing to pay a 6 or 7-digit damages award? That is happening in Florida. Employers in and out of Florida should pay attention to this news, as what doesn’t start in California often starts in Florida.

Employees suspended without pay may be entitled to COBRA notice.

The Comprehensive Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (COBRA) – part of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) – imposes an obligation on a healthcare coverage plan administrator to notify any employee covered by the administrator’s plan of that employee’s right to continue health insurance coverage for up to 18 months after a "qualifying event."

A Snake in the Grass No More? DOL Proposes New COBRA Forms

As part of its continuing efforts to update the sleepier corners of the employee benefits world to conform to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently proposed new regulations of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) that likely herald more frequent adjustments to the model notice and election forms we all know and love. While employers have been and will continue to be free to craft customized COBRA notices, the new model notices supplied by the DOL offer a helpful leg up for the drafting process. They also provide employers with a safe harbor that is deemed to capture the substantive content mandated by COBRA.

COBRA Subsidy Unlikely to be Extended Further.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided a 65% COBRA premium subsidy to eligible individuals involuntarily terminated between September 1, 2008, and December 31, 2009. Congress later extended the subsidy three times; most recently for those involuntarily terminated on or before May 31, 2010. (For information regarding the original COBRA subsidy and the previous extensions, please see our archived E*Bulletins from April 2010, March 2010, January 2010, March 2009, and February 2009.)

COBRA Subsidy Extended Again . . . and Again.

On April 15, 2010, Congress passed, and the President signed, the Continuing Extension Act of 2010. The Continuing Extension Act of 2010 extends the existing 65% COBRA premium subsidy for employees who are involuntarily terminated through May 31, 2010. The subsidy was originally provided through December 31, 2009, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“ARRA”), and was previously extended through February 28, 2010, and then March 31, 2010, via the 2010 Department of Defense Appropriations Act and the Temporary Extension Act of 2010, respectively. For information regarding the original COBRA subsidy and the previous extensions, please see our archived E*Bulletins from March 2010, January 2010, March 2009, and February 2009.

COBRA Subsidy Extended and Modified.

Newly-enacted legislation extends and expands the 65 percent federal COBRA subsidy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in cases of involuntary termination of employment. A stopgap measure signed into law on March 2 by President Barack Obama extends the end of the eligibility period from February 28 to March 31, 2010, and makes other longer-lasting changes to the year-old subsidy arrangement. These changes include:
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