New Jersey Releases Guidance for COBRA/State Continuation Premium Assistance Under ARPA
The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance has released Bulletin No. 21-08, a document that addresses Continuation Coverage in the state under the American Rescue Plan (or ARPA, made law on March 11, 2021). The important provisions of the Bulletin are highlighted below:
- The Bulletin makes clear that New Jersey state continuation coverage is functionally similar enough to COBRA that individuals eligible for NJ State Continuation Coverage (instead of COBRA) can also be eligible for premium assistance under ARPA.
- The Bulletin also makes clear that the criteria for an Assistance Eligible Individual (AEI) under NJ State Continuation premium assistance is the same as the criteria for an AEI under COBRA premium assistance. Namely:
a. Eligibility for NJ State Continuation Coverage due to a reduction in hours or involuntary termination (other than gross misconduct);
b. Lack of eligibility for other group health coverage or Medicare
- The Bulletin addresses the previous Bulletin 20-12, which modified the requirement for full-time employees (of small employers) in the state such that those who were laid off could remain on the group health plan despite loss of full-time status. This Bulletin terminates that arrangement as of April 1, 2021 and directs employers to inform those employees of this termination and their eligibility for premium-assisted continuation coverage.
- The Bulletin sets deadlines for employers to inform employees of their rights for an Extended Election Period under Continuation Coverage. The Extended Election Notice deadline for COBRA was May 31, 2021 and the Extended Election Notice deadline for NJ State Continuation Coverage is “no later than 5 business days following July 21, 2021”.
- The Bulletin states definitively that premium assistance ends on September 30, 2021 regardless of COBRA or NJ State Continuation Coverage.
Employers should reach out to all Assistance Eligible Individuals eligible for NJ State Continuation Coverage as soon as possible. The Bulletin explicitly endorses the use of the Alternative Notice of ARP Continuation Coverage Election Notice provided earlier in the year by the federal government, so employers need not wait for further materials.
You can read the entire Bulletin HERE.