On April 10, 2023, the President signed H.J.Res. 7, which ended the COVID-19 national emergency on April 10, 2023, approximately one month earlier than anticipated. However, prior to the passage of H.J. Res. 7, the DOL and other federal agencies issued guidance in the form of FAQs that indicate an end date of May 11, 2023 for the national emergency and public health emergency. Based on informal statements by officials at the DOL and other agencies, the agencies intend to stand by the May 11 end date for the national emergency and the corresponding July 10, 2023 end date for the outbreak period. It is not clear whether the agencies will issue any additional formal written guidance. This means that despite the President ending the national emergency on April 10, the DOL and other agencies will rely on the previously communicated May 11 end date as described in their FAQs to determine the end of the national emergency and public health emergency.
As a reminder, the national emergency relief disregards the following deadlines until the earlier of one year from the date the individual was first eligible for the relief, or until 60 days after the end of the national emergency:
- The 30-day period (or 60-day period, if applicable) to request a special enrollment;
- The 60-day election period for COBRA continuation coverage;
- The deadline for making COBRA premium payments;
- The deadline for individuals to notify the plan of a qualifying event or determination of disability;
- The deadline within which employees can file a benefit claim, or a claimant can appeal an adverse benefit determination, under a group health plan’s or disability plan’s claims procedures;
- The deadline for claimants to file a request for an external review after receipt of an adverse benefit determination or final internal adverse benefit determination; and
- The deadline for a claimant to file information to perfect a request for external review upon finding that the request was not complete.
Plans sponsors taking a cautious approach will administer their plans in accordance with the May 11 end date specified in the FAQs and continue to disregard the normal deadlines until after July 10, 2023. Participant communications should be reviewed to ensure that the correct deadlines are communicated.