In conjunction with the Temporary Extension Act of 2010 that provides for the extension of the COBRA subsidy period to March 31, 2010, the DOL has published new model notices for COBRA and for application for the subsidy. The notices are available here.

Three new notices have been added. The first is a Model Notice of New Election Period. It provides for a new election for COBRA coverage and treatment as a subsidy eligible individual if the individual: (1) experienced a qualifying event that was a reduction in hours at any time from September 1, 2008 through March 31, 2010; (2) subsequently experience a termination of employment at any point from March 2, 2010 through March 31, 2010; and (3) either did not elect continuation coverage when it was first offered OR elected but subsequently discontinued the coverage. Individuals who experience an involuntary termination of employment after experiencing a qualifying event that consists of a reduction of hours MUST be provided this notice within 60 days of the termination of employment.

The second is the Supplemental Information Notice. It has to be provided to all individuals who elected and maintained continuation coverage based on the following qualifying events: (1) terminations of employment that occurred at some time on or after March 1, 2010 for which notice of the availability of the premium reduction available under ARRA was not given; or (2) reductions of hours that occurred during the period from September 1, 2008 through March 31, 2010 which were followed by a termination of the employee's employment that occurred on or after March 2, 2010 and by March 31, 2010. Individuals who experience an involuntary termination of employment after experiencing a qualifying event that consists of a reduction of hours MUST be provided this notice within 60 days of that termination. Individuals with qualifying events that occurred on or after March 1, 2010 for which notice of the availability of the premium reduction available under ARRA was not given MUST be provided this notice before the end of the required time period for providing a COBRA election notice.

Finally, a Notice of Extended Election Period was created. Plans MUST provide, before the end of the required time period for providing a COBRA election notice, the Notice of Extended Election Period to all individuals who: (1) experienced a qualifying event that was a termination of employment at some time on or after March 1, 2010; (2) were provided notice that did not inform them of their rights under ARRA, as amended by Temporary Extension Act; and (3) either chose not to elect COBRA continuation coverage at that time OR elected COBRA but subsequently discontinued that coverage.

It is anticipated that this framework will be extended through December 21, 2010, so plan administrators should carefully review these requirements and notices to make sure they are fully compliant.