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EBSA Starts To Implement ARRA

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The Employee Benefits Security Administration has set up a Web site to help employers comply with the new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

One major section of ARRA, also known as the “economic stimulus bill,” will provide government subsidies for laid-off workers who buy Consoldiated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act health benefits continuation coverage.

The government will pay 65% of the COBRA premiums for workers laid off between Sept. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2009.

“Those who are eligible for other group health coverage (such as a spouse’s plan) or Medicare are not eligible for the premium reduction,” EBSA officials write.

In addition, another wrinkle is that there is no premium reduction for periods of coverage that began prior to Feb. 17, 2009, officials write.

“EBSA is actively working to issue additional guidance regarding the COBRA premium reductions,” officials write.

Officials note that EBSA’s parent, the U.S. Labor Department, must be prepared to hear appeals from individuals who say they are eligible for COBRA continuation subsidies but are denied access to the subsidies.

“The department is currently developing a process and an official application form that will be required to be completed for appeals,” officials write.

EBSA has posted that memo and links to other information about ARRA benefits provision here.