President Biden Extends the National Emergency through February 2023

 

 

The National Emergency, first declared by President Trump in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, was formally extended a second time by President Biden on February 18, 2022.  The National Emergency impacts health benefit plans, and allows certain plan deadlines to have a one-year tolling period.  Per prior guidance from the IRS, and Departments of Labor and Health & Human Services, the tolling period is applied on an individual case-by-case basis for one-year or, 60 days from the end of the National Emergency, whichever is earlier.

National Emergencies are usually declared for a one-year period, but may either be extended or declared over prior to the one-year anniversary at the President’s discretion.  For example, if cases of COVID-19 decrease, the National Emergency may end sooner. The National Emergency is separate from the public health emergency, which was extended last year and expires 4/16/22.

 

National Emergency Impacts Tolling Periods for Benefits

 

COBRA (for Participants)

Below is a summary of how the tolling period affects COBRA members:

  • extends the time for employees to notify employers of a qualifying event or disability extension.
  • extends the length of the COBRA coverage election period.
  • extends the grace period for premium payments.
  • extends the notification time for HIPAA special enrollment requests.

The maximum extension available for an individual will not exceed one year.

 

COBRA (for Employers)

Below is a summary of how the tolling period affects employers.

  • extends the timeline required to provide an Election Notice to a qualified beneficiary.

 

Flexible Spending Account (for Participants)

Below is a summary of how the tolling period affects Flexible Spending Account (FSA) participants:

  • extends the length of time for a participant to file a claim.
  • extends the deadline for appealing an adverse claim decision and an external review of a claim.