Unemployment, COBRA Premium Subsidy Temporarily Extended As Congress Mulls Passing Longer Relief

April 16, 2010

April 16, 2010

The Continuing Extension Act of 2010 (H.R. 4851) signed into law yesterday (April 15, 2010) extends federal unemployment benefits and the COBRA premium subsidy program while Congress continues to debate.  While Congress continues to debate whether to adopt a longer term extension of these programs, employers and group health plans will have to scramble again to send out required notifications and handle other details required to comply with this latest temporary extension to these benefits.  Transitional relief included in the bill  requires action again by  group health plans and/or sponsoring employers, who again must tell former employees and their dependents of the retroactively granted relief.

Among other things, H.R. 4851:

  • Extends the period unemployed individuals may file applications for Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) from April 5, 2010 to June 2, 2010
  • Extends from September 4, 2010 to November 6, 2010 the period which individuals may claim and be paid EUC and also the period that individuals can qualify for the Federal Additional Compensation (FAC), (the extra $25 per weekly benefit amount on state and federal unemployment compensation)
  • Extends the period the federal government will provide 100% reimbursement for weeks of regular federal extended benefit payments from April 5, 2010 to June 2, 2010, with the state option to continue the benefit extension period from September 4, 2010 to November 6, 2010
  • Extends the  eligibility period for the COBRA health insurance 65% subsidy for qualifying individuals who have lost employment based health coverage due to an employment loss through May 31, 2010 and provides transition relief for individuals who lost their jobs between March 31, 2010 and April 15, 2010

Yesterday’s short-term extension is the latest in a series of short-term emergency extensions of special unemployment benefit and COBRA premium subsidies originally enacted in February, 2009 under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 1990.  Even as it passed the short-term extension of this relief in H.R. 4851, Congress continues to consider legislation that would provide for a longer extension of unemployment and COBRA premium subsidy benefits.  H.R. 4213, for instance, would extend benefits through the end of 2010. 

The COBRA premium subsidy and other recent employment and employee benefit developments will be among the topics that attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer will be discussing during her upcoming “Legal Update on Employment Law” presentations at the “Barnstorm 2010: Creating an Effective Leaders-Tools of the Trade” management training that the Texas Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration and Education (TSHHRAE) will be hosting for health industry human resources and other managers in five Texas cities between April 26 and April 30, 2010.  For registration and other information about the Barnstorm Program, see here

About Ms. Stamer

Board Certified in Labor & Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Ms. Stamer is nationally recognized for more than 22 years of work with health industry and other organizations on labor and employment, staffing and credentialing, employee benefits, performance management and discipline, compliance and internal controls, risk management, and public policy matters. 

The Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) RPTE Employee Benefits & Other Compensation Committee, a Council Representative on the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, Government Affairs Committee Legislative Chair for the Dallas Human Resources Management Association, Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group, and the editor and publisher of Solutions Law Press HR & Benefits Update, the Solutions Law Press Health Care Update, and Solutions Law Press Health Care Privacy & Technology Update, Ms. Stamer also is recognized for her publications, industry leadership, workshops and presentations on these and other health industry and human resources concerns. She regularly speaks and conducts training for the ABA, American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA), Health Care Compliance Association, Institute of Internal Auditors, Harris County Medical Society, the Medical Group Management Association, SHRM, Southwest Benefits Association and many other organizations.  Publishers of her many highly regarded writings on health industry and human resources matters include the Bureau of National Affairs, Aspen Publishers, ABA, AHLA, Spencer Publications, World At Work, SHRM, Business Insurance, James Publishing and many others.  You can review other highlights of Ms. Stamer’s health care experience here, and employment experience hereHer insights on these and other matters appear in Managed Care Executive, Modern Health Care, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, MDNews, Kentucky Physician, and many other national and local publications. 

If you need help with human resources or other management, concerns, wish to ask about compliance, risk management or training, or need legal representation on other matters please contact Cynthia Marcotte Stamer at cstamer@cttlegal.com or 214.270.2402. 

Other Resources

If you found this information of interest, you also may be interested in reviewing other updates and publications by Ms. Stamer including:

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile here or e-mailing this information here or registering to receive our Solutions Law Press distributions here. For important information about this communication click here.    If you do not wish to receive these updates in the future, send an e-mail with the word “Remove” in the Subject to here.

©2010 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. All rights reserved.


Agencies Invite Public To Share Input About Insurer Obligation To Report About Health Premium Use Under Health Care Reform Law

April 14, 2010

April 15, 2010

By Cynthia Marcotte Stamer

The Departments of Treasury (IRS), Labor (DOL) and Health & Human Services (HHS) are inviting public comments in advance of future rulemaking on impending new federal requirements that will obligate health insurance issuers offering individual or group medical coverage to send annual reports to HHS on the percentages of premiums that the coverage spends on  reimbursement for clinical services and activities that improve health  care quality, and to provide rebates to enrollees if this spending does  not meet minimum standards for a given plan year added as Section 2718  of the Public Health Service Act (PHS Act) by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act  (PPACA), Public Law 111-148, enacted on March 23, 2010. 

Among other things, the new requirements in Section 2718 of  the PHS Act, Section 715 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act  of 1974 (ERISA) and Section 9815 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986  (the Code) will require  health  insurance issuers offering group or individual  coverage to report to HHS annually:

  • The ratio of the incurred loss (or incurred claims) plus the  loss adjustment expense (or change in contract reserves) to earned  premiums (also known as the medical loss ratio (MLR)); and
  • The percentage of total premium revenue–after accounting for collections or receipts for risk  adjustment and risk corridors and payments of reinsurance–that the  coverage spends: (1) on reimbursement for clinical services provided to enrollees; (2) for activities that improve health care quality;  and (3) on all other non-claims costs, including an explanation of the nature of these costs, and excluding Federal and State taxes and  licensing or regulatory fees.

PPACA also requires that HHS make these reports available to the public on the Internet Web site of HHS.  To review the request for comments and its instructions for commenting on the new requirements, see here.

For Added Information or Assistance

If your organization need advice or help with these or other health benefit, labor and employment, employee benefits, compensation or related matters, consider contacting Cynthia Marcotte Stamer at (469) 767-8872 or via e-mail here

Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Real Property, Probate & Trust Section Employee Benefits & Other Compensation Arrangements Group, a Council Member of the ABA Joint Committee On Employee Benefits Council, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section, Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, and Exempt Organization Vice-Coordinator of the Southern States IRS TEGE Council,  , Ms. Stamer has extensive experience advising and representing management about labor and employment, employee benefits, compensation and other related management matters.  A nationally recognized author and lecturer, Ms. Stamer also speaks and writes extensively on these and other related matters. For additional information about Ms. Stamer and her experience or to access other publications by Ms. Stamer see here or contact Ms. Stamer directly.

Other Information & Resources

We hope that this information is useful to you. If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile here or e-mailing this information here or registering to receive future editions of our Solutions Law Press HR & Benefits Update distributions here.  Examples of other recent updates that may be of interest include:

For important information about this communication click here.   If you do not wish to receive these updates in the future, send an e-mail with the word “Remove” in the Subject here.

 ©2010 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. All rights reserved.


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