The U.S. Department of Labor has responded to the recent extension of the COBRA subsidy rules by revising its model COBRA notices. It has also issued a new model notice describing the extension that may be provided to certain individuals who have already received notice of the right to continuation coverage.

The new and revised model notices account for the longer subsidy period and the extended period during which individuals may qualify for the subsidy. For more information about the extension of the COBRA subsidy, click here.

Although the models provide a safe harbor for compliance, employers are free to design their own notices as long as the notices meet statutory requirements. Whatever form of notice employers choose to follow, they should act quickly to meet the notice obligations. Certain individuals may be entitled to notice of the extension of their right to the COBRA subsidy by January 30, 2010, and providing notice earlier than that date may help ease administration.

For assistance in complying with the new rules, please contact any member of Ballard Spahr's Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group.

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