Compliance Alert by: The Baldwin Regulatory Compliance Collaborative (BRCC)
COVID-19 National Emergency Ended April 10, 2023
President Biden has signed a joint resolution passed by Congress that ended the COVID-19 national emergency that had been in place since 2020. The Biden administration had previously announced a May 11, 2023 end date to both the national emergency and the public health emergency (PHE), but the signing of the bipartisan legislation terminated the national emergency as of April 10, 2023. The PHE is still scheduled to end May 11, 2023.
Various employee benefit plan deadlines had been extended by disregarding an “outbreak period” from March 1, 2020, until 60 days after the announced end of the national emergency. Since the national emergency ended on April 10, 2023, the outbreak period will end on June 9, 2023 (not July 10, 2023, as previously announced). Once the outbreak period ends, health plans can return to their nonextended deadlines for purposes of HIPAA special enrollment, COBRA continuation coverage, claims and appeals procedures, and certain plan related notices.
Employer Action Items
Our original Alert, detailing specific employer action items and the impact to employee benefit plans is available here. References therein to the outbreak period ending on July 10, 2023 are now June 9, 2023.
The Biden administration has stated it will continue working with federal agencies to wind down the national emergency. Prior guidance in the form of Frequently Asked Questions was issued on March 29, 2023 that addresses how certain health plan requirements related to the COVID-19 pandemic will change when both the National Emergency and PHE end. While this guidance was issued before the resolution ended the National Emergency, the clarifications regarding changes to benefits after the end of the emergency periods and the reinstatement of normal deadlines still apply.
According to federal agencies, if changes are made to a plan or coverage after the end of the PHE or national emergency, plan sponsors and employers must clearly communicate these changes, including any limitations on benefits, to participants and beneficiaries before they take effect. Additional resources on the ending of the COVID-19 emergency periods are available on the Department of Labor’s Response to COVID-19 website.
For any questions related to this article, please contact your local representative.