Reasoning that “the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause significant risk to the public health and safety of the Nation,” President Biden has extended the COVID-19 National Emergency, which was declared on March 13, 2020, and was scheduled to end March 1, 2022. This latest extension of the National Emergency is expected to last for at least one year.
Extending the National Emergency also extends temporary delays of certain deadlines applicable to group health plans. These temporary deadline extensions will continue until 60 days after the announcement of the end of the National Emergency (the “Outbreak Period”).
The extended deadlines include the following:
- Claims and Appeals: The Outbreak Period is ignored when determining the deadline for filing a claim or appeal in connection with an adverse benefit determination.
- HIPAA Special Enrollment: Under HIPAA, an individual generally has 30 days (60 days in certain cases) to request enrollment in a group health plan following the occurrence of a HIPAA special enrollment event (g., birth of a child, marriage, loss of other coverage). The Outbreak Period is ignored when determining the deadline by which an individual must request a HIPAA special enrollment.
- Notice to the Plan of COBRA Qualifying Event or Disability: Plans must disregard the Outbreak Period when determining the 60-day deadline for individuals to notify the plan of certain COBRA qualifying events (e., divorce, legal separation, a child’s loss of dependent status under the plan, or a Social Security disability determination).
- COBRA Election Period: Plans must disregard the Outbreak Period when determining the 60-day deadline for individuals to elect COBRA continuation coverage.
- COBRA Premium Payments: COBRA requires an individual who enrolls in COBRA continuation coverage to make the initial premium payment within 45 days after the election, and plans must provide a grace period of at least 30 days for subsequent premium payments. Plans must disregard the Outbreak Period when determining the deadline to submit COBRA premium payments.
External Review: Plans must disregard the Outbreak Period when determining the deadline for participants to file a request for external review after receiving an adverse benefit determination, or for submitting information to perfect a request for external review.