MODEL NOTICES ISSUED FOR COBRA SUBSIDIES UNDER THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT OF 2021
Updated: May 17, 2021
By: Paula Jackson
April 8, 2021
The American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) mandates that employers or group health plans pay COBRA (or mini-COBRA) continuation premiums for six months beginning April 1, 2021. Administrators are also required to issue certain notices to individuals affected by this new subsidy.
The Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued Model Notices that may be sent to individuals as “good faith compliance with the election notice content requirements of COBRA and [ARPA].” The following individuals must be sent Notices within the designated deadline:
(1) Qualified beneficiaries who become eligible for continuation assistance from April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021, must be sent a Notice (such as DOL’s “Model ARP General Notice and COBRA Election Notice” or “Model Alternative Notice of ARP Continuation Coverage Election Notice” for state continuation) as provided by existing COBRA or state continuation requirements (e.g., within 14 days of COBRA qualifying event notice);
(2) “Assistance Eligible Individuals” already enrolled in COBRA or those who would be “Assistance Eligible Individuals” if they had elected or maintained continuation coverage must be sent a Notice (such as DOL’s “Model COBRA Continuation Notice in Connection with Extended Election Periods”) by May 31, 2021;
(3) Individuals whose premium assistance is about to expire (unless their eligibility expires due to becoming eligible for other health coverage) must be sent Notice (such as DOL’s “Notice of Expiration of Period of Premium Assistance”) 15-45 days before subsidy expires.
These DOL Model Notices, a “Summary of the COBRA Premium Assistance Provisions under [ARPA]” (“Summary”), and Frequently Asked Questions can be found at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/cobra/premium-subsidy. The DOL’s Summary must be distributed with the Notice and Election Forms since it contains the Premium Assistance Eligibility Forms and other information required to be sent to the individual.
Also, the deadlines for sending these ARPA Notices cannot be extended. The DOL indicated that “[t]he extensions under the Joint Notice and EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 do not apply . . . to the notices or the election periods related to COBRA premium assi[s]tance available under the ARP. Therefore, plans and issuers must provide the notices according to the timeframes specified in the ARP . . . .”
If you have any questions about ARPA and your responsibilities regarding it, please contact your legal counsel or group plan administrator as soon as possible to ensure that your COBRA administration process is legally compliant.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or tax advice. Receipt of or viewing information on this web site does not create an attorney-client relationship. You may contact our firm to establish such a relationship, but in any event, please consult an attorney or tax professional of your choosing for advice on this or any other legal topic.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  See “American Rescue Plan Mandates New COBRA Subsidies” (Mar. 22, 2021) at https://www.jsylawfirm.com/post/american-rescue-plan-mandates-new-cobra-subsidies. ARPA, which was enacted March 11, 2021, can be found in its enrolled form at https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/BILLS-117hr1319enr/pdf/BILLS-117hr1319enr.pdf.  See https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/cobra/premium-subsidy, “Model ARP General Notice and COBRA Continuation Coverage Election Notice” at 1, “Model COBRA Continuation Coverage Notice in Connection with Extended Election Periods” at 1, and “Notice of Expiration of Period of Premium Assistance” at 1 (last updated April 7, 2021).  See id.; ARPA Section 9501(a)(5)-(6); https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/EBSA/about-ebsa/our-activities/resource-center/publications/an-employers-guide-to-group-health-continuation-coverage-under-cobra.pdf (notice usually must be sent to newly eligible qualified beneficiaries within 14 days of notice of qualifying event). Individuals may only be eligible for this premium assistance due to the covered employees’ reduction of hours or involuntary termination for reasons other than gross misconduct. Individuals who voluntarily terminated their employment are not eligible to receive this subsidy. ARPA Section 9501(a).
 See https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/cobra/premium-subsidy, “Model ARP General Notice and COBRA Continuation Coverage Election Notice” at 1, “Model COBRA Continuation Coverage Notice in Connection with Extended Election Periods” at 1.  “FAQS About COBRA Premium Assistance Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021,” at 6, https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/EBSA/about-ebsa/our-activities/resource-center/faqs/cobra-premium-assistance-under-arp.pdf.