COVID-19 National Emergency Expected to End May 11

Earlier this week, President Biden announced his intent to extend the national emergency concerning the COVID-19 pandemic through May 11, 2023. President Trump initially declared a national emergency at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020. Shortly after President Biden took office, the national emergency was extended for one year through February 28, 2022. President Biden extended the national emergency for a second time on February 18, 2022, until February 28, 2023.

Beginning March 1, 2020, the national emergency declaration has provided relief to health and welfare plans by extending the following deadlines:

  • HIPAA special enrollment periods
  • 60-day election period for COBRA continuation coverage
  • Date for making COBRA continuation coverage premium payments
  • Date for individuals to notify a health plan of a qualifying event or determination of disability
  • Date that individuals can make a claim for benefits under the plan's claims procedures (extending the runout period for reimbursement by health plans, health FSAs, or HRA plans until after the pandemic has subsided)
  • Date for individuals to perfect an incomplete claim
  • Dates for appealing denied benefits and for external review of claims denials
  • Date that a group health plan sponsor or administrator must provide a COBRA election notice

As clarified in Notice 2021-01, the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Treasury explained the extension of deadlines applies on a person-by person basis and cannot exceed one year, as follows:

  • one year from the date an individual was first eligible for relief, or
  • 60 days after the announced end of the national emergency

 If the national emergency ends on May 11, 2023, as planned, the extension of deadlines would end on July 10, 2023. Normal deadlines for the events listed above will apply as of that date. President Biden has indicated that he intends to end both the public health emergency and the national emergency on May 11, 2023.