The Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Treasury (IRS) recently issued FAQs addressing the anticipated end of the National and Public Health Emergency Declarations set to take place on May 11, 2023. The end of the National and Public Health Emergency Declarations affects relief afforded to benefit plans and their participants and beneficiaries such as extended deadlines for claims administration or COBRA notices and elections.
The FAQs provide that, with the anticipated end of the National Emergency Declaration, the end of the Outbreak Period will end July 19, 2023. As of the last day of the Outbreak Period, the extensions for timeframes will no longer apply. For example, if an individual is eligible to elect COBRA continuation coverage under an employer’s plan and is provided an election notice on May 1, 2023, the individual has until September 8, 2023 to elect COBRA. September 8, 2023 is 60 days after the anticipated end of the Outbreak Period set for July 10, 2023.
Congress recently passed a resolution declaring an immediate end to the National Emergency declaration and the resolution was signed into law by President Biden on April 10, 2023, Notably, the Public Health Emergency declaration is not affected by the Congressional resolution and therefore, it is still anticipated to end on May 11,2023. Despite the National Emergency declaration effectively ending on April 10, 2023, it is expected that the DOL, HHS and IRS will continue to treat May 11, 2023 as the end of the National Emergency declaration for purposes of determining the end of the Outbreak Period.