May 8th, 2020

To Our Valued Clients and Partners

We are issuing this interim compliance alert today because there is critical information you need to be aware of that may affect your Plan that cannot wait until our regular update next week. This information has a direct impact on Human Resource Departments and COBRA Administrators. We ask you to carefully review our summary and recommended next steps below and reach out to your Account Manager should you have any questions.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on May 4th, 2020, the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) and the Internal Revenue Service of the Department of Treasury jointly published a new extension Rule in the Federal Register. The new Rule extends certain time frames for employee benefit plans and is meant to provide relief for plan participants and beneficiaries impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. 

The new extension Rule applies to the following activities and events:

  • 30/60 day HIPAA special enrollment rights
  • 30/45 & 60 day COBRA enrollment, payment and notice requirements
  • Timely filing provisions - Benefit Plan claim filing time frames
  • 180-day appeal & four-month external review appeals deadlines & filing requirements
  • Certain regulatory filing requirements (i.e. 5500 forms)

The retroactive nature of the relief will require some immediate process changes, notifications, and identification of any covered activities and events since March 1st, 2020, to determine if any corrections are required.  

Understanding the Outbreak Period:

The ‘Outbreak Period’ is essentially a blackout period beginning March 1 st 2020, and ending 60 days after the official end date of the federally-declared COVID-19 National Emergency. During the ‘Outbreak Period’ certain Plan deadlines related to the activities and events listed in our Summary above will be disregarded. Once the Outbreak Period concludes, normal deadline enforcement and application of standard rules and guidelines will resume. 

Without knowing an official end date to the COVID-19 National Emergency, we can say at this time that the new extension Rule is now in effect with an end date to be determined. We will continue to monitor federal announcements related to this new extension Rule and share any updates with you as they become available. 
Recommended Next Steps
Employers and their service providers should carefully review the activities and events in the Summary section above and take steps now to comply with the new extension Rule, including taking action to provide notices of available relief rights to impacted Active and COBRA members. The EBSA published a useful FAQ for Participants and Beneficiaries that we recommend reviewing for additional guidance.

We’re Here for You  
Our focus, dedication, and support remain steadfast as we navigate these unique times with you. Thank you for your continued trust in our organization. We hope you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy. Please reach out to your Account Manager if you have any questions or if there’s anything we can do to help. 
Best Regards, 
Jessica Rothe, MBA, CCEP
Sr. Manager, Compliance
RGA - Proving What’s Possible in Healthcare ®