Pandemic Relief Bill

Unpacking The Coverage Provisions In The House Pandemic Relief Bill

Days before his inauguration, President Joe Biden outlined a plan for COVID-19 relief and economic recovery that includes federal aid for health care expenses, such as providing subsidized Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) coverage. 

The relief and stimulus proposals in Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan package range from asking Congress for additional $1,400 checks to reimbursing employers with 500 or fewer employees for providing paid leave. Other provisions focus on helping consumers with health care expenses.

With many individuals utilizing COBRA coverage services employers are scrambling to stay on top of the newest updates to keep compliant. Below are a few things you should know should they pass through congress:

  • Both the Ways and Means proposal and the Education and Labor proposal would subsidize 85 percent of the cost of premiums for COBRA continuation coverage for workers who are laid off or have reduced hours.

  • The subsidy would begin the first month after the new law is enacted and extend through September 30, 2021.

  • The subsidy would not count towards an individual’s gross income and would be treated as an advance refundable payroll tax credit.

  • Those who have not yet enrolled in COBRA continuation coverage or who were enrolled but discontinued that coverage could opt into subsidized COBRA continuation coverage.

  • Any individual who is denied access to subsidies could file a request for expedited review by the Secretary of Labor or the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

  • COBRA subsidies are not available to those who are eligible to enroll in another group health plan, a flexible spending arrangement, a qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement, or Medicare.

  • Employers and group health plans would be required to provide several new notices to those who become eligible for COBRA continuation coverage.

Current COBRA Notices

    • General Notice
    • Qualified Beneficiary's Notice of a Qualifying Event
    • COBRA Election Notice
    • Plan Administrator's Notice of COBRA Ineligibility
    • Notice of Early Termination

NEW additional COBRA Notices

    • Notices would address the availability of the new subsidies,
    • the option to enroll in different coverage as available,
    • the extended period to enroll in COBRA continuation coverage
    • the expiration of the premium assistance.

These changes require action. If you are currently self administering COBRA you must ensure your documents are up to date.

Discuss Your COBRA Options With Benafica

Remaining compliant with COBRA administration can be complex, by working with Benafica you will remain current and compliant with changing regulations. Contact us today if you have questions or are not currently utilizing our COBRA administration services.

To learn more about how we can help you, feel free to schedule a free consultation or call our St. Paul office today at 651-287-3253. You can also get in touch with us via our contact form, and a representative will reach out to you promptly.