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May 10, 2023

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What the End of the COVID-19 Pandemic Means for Employee Benefit Plan Deadlines and Coverage

Jackson Lewis PC

President Biden announced that the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) and the National Emergency declared by President Trump in 2020 will end on May 11, 2023. The PHE relief issued in response to the pandemic affected group health plan coverage requirements related to COVID-19 prevention and treatment. The National Emergency relief suspended deadlines that normally apply to certain employee benefit plans. While seemingly simple in concept, the end of the PHE and National Emergency means employers soon will enter a murky transition period requiring special administrative attention.

Calculating Deadlines After the National Emergency

The U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of the Treasury jointly issued deadline extension relief applicable to ERISA deadlines that normally apply to HIPAA special enrollment events, claims, appeals, COBRA elections, and COBRA premium payments, among others (the “Relief Events”). The guidance included a transition rule such that once the National Emergency ends, the relief draws to a close.

[Read on for the follow-up article from Jackson Lewis]

The National Emergency Ends…. But Wait, There’s More!

We previously wrote about President Biden’s announcement to end the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) and National Emergency (NE) periods on May 11, 2023, and the practical ramifications for employer group health plan sponsors as they administer COBRA, special enrollment, and other related deadlines tied to the end of the NE. As discussed, this action generally meant that all applicable deadlines were tolled until the end of the NE plus 60 days, or July 10, 2023, with all regular (non-extended) deadlines taking effect for applicable events occurring after that.

A Change in the National Emergency End Date

A new wrinkle recently added a potential complication to calculating these deadlines. President Biden signed H.R. Res. 7 into law on April 10, 2023, after Congress jointly introduced H.R. Res. 7 as a one-line action to end the NE, effective immediately. The consequence is that the applicable end of the transition relief is now June 9, 2023 (60 days following April 10, 2023) instead of July 10, 2023, as previously anticipated.

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©2023 Jackson Lewis P.C. Reprinted with permission. This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between Jackson Lewis and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material. This material may be considered attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

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