Joint Resolution relating to a national emergency declared by the President on March 13, 2020, Pub. L. No. 118-3 (Apr. 10, 2023)
Congress has passed, and the President has signed, legislation ending the COVID-19 national emergency on April 10, 2023. In January, the Biden administration issued a policy statement indicating its intent to extend the COVID-19 national emergency (NE) and public health emergency (PHE) declarations to May 11, 2023, and then end both emergencies on that date (see our Checkpoint article). The administration had initially opposed Congressional efforts to end the emergency periods sooner, stating that an abrupt end to the emergency declarations would create “wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the health care system” for states, health providers, and individuals.
EBIA Comment: The COVID-19 pandemic prompted Congress and the federal agencies to issue temporary rules affecting employee benefit plans—some apply during the PHE, while others apply during the “outbreak period” related to the NE. The outbreak period is defined as the period beginning March 1, 2020, and ending 60 days after the announced end of the NE or other date announced by the agencies (see our Checkpoint article). Following the administration’s announcement that the NE would end on May 11, 2023, the agencies issued FAQs anticipating that the outbreak period would end July 10, 2023 (see our Checkpoint article). Clarification regarding the outbreak period would be welcome. CMS has already clarified that the legislation ending the NE does not affect the PHE. For more information, see EBIA’s COBRA manual at Section VI (“Special Issues: COBRA and COVID-19”), EBIA’s ERISA Compliance manual at Section XXXIV.F (“Timelines Under Group Health Claims Procedures”), EBIA’s HIPAA Portability, Privacy & Security manual at Section X (“Special Enrollment Rights”), EBIA’s Cafeteria Plans manual at Section XVI.N (“Temporary COVID-19-Related Relief for Cafeteria Plans, Health FSAs, and DCAPs”), and EBIA’s Self-Insured Health Plans manual at Section XXVIII.A (“Overview of Participant Disclosure Requirements”). See also EBIA’s Group Health Plan Mandates manual at Section XVI.C (“COVID-19: Mandated Coverage of Diagnostic and Preventive Services”).
Contributing Editors: EBIA Staff.