On December 19, 2009, President Obama signed into law the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2010 (the “Act”). The Act extended the COBRA premium subsidy eligibility period and increased the maximum subsidy duration. Now, employees involuntarily terminated from employment from September 1, 2008 and ending February 28, 2010 are eligible for the COBRA premium subsidy. Further, the Act increased the maximum duration from nine (9) months to fifteen (15) months, thereby requiring employers to provide updated notices to involuntarily terminated employees.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) posted on its website updated model COBRA notices, a new premium reduction fact sheet and a summary of frequently asked questions (15 questions and answers) on the proper application of the COBRA premium subsidy under the Act. The “notice page” on the DOL’s website contains easy to follow guidance to assist employers in meeting their obligations. (http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/cobra.html)