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Role of the Federal Government/More Information

COBRA continuation of coverage laws are administered by several agencies. The Departments of Labor and Treasury have jurisdiction with respect to private-sector group health plans. The Department of Health and Human Services administers the continuation of coverage law as it pertains to public sector (state and local governmental) group health plans. The Labor Department's interpretive and regulatory responsibility is limited to the disclosure and notification requirements of COBRA. If you need further information on your disclosure or notification rights under a private sector plan, or about ERISA generally, write to the nearest office of the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). Consult the "U.S. Government, U.S. Department of Labor" listing in your telephone directory for the office nearest you or call toll free 1-866-275-7922 which allows you to automatically be connected to the nearest EBSA regional office. Or write to:

U.S. Department of Labor
Employee Benefits Security Administration
Division of Technical Assistance and Inquiries
Room N-5619
200 Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210
 

You may also consult the agency's website at www.dol.gov/ebsa.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of the Treasury, has issued regulations on COBRA provisions relating to eligibility, coverage and premiums in 26 CFR Part 54, "Continuation Coverage Requirements Applicable to Group Health Plans." Both the Departments of Labor and Treasury share jurisdiction for enforcement of these provisions.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Department of Health and Human Services, has advisory jurisdiction with respect to COBRA as it applies to state and local governmental employers, their group health plans and employees (42 U.S.C. 300bb-1 through 300bb-8 (title XXII of the Public Health Service Act), entitled "Requirements for Certain Group Health Plans for Certain State and Local Employees"). It is the intent of Congress that any regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services will conform (in terms of actual requirements) with regulations issued by the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Labor. (Conference Report 99-453, page 563, December 19, 1985.) Accordingly, CMS relies on IRS regulations* and EBSA guidance* to the extent that the COBRA law with respect to private sector and public sector COBRA is the same. Information about COBRA provisions for state and local governmental employees is available from the:

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Private Health Insurance Group
7500 Security Boulevard
Mail Stop S3-16-16
Baltimore, MD 21244-1850
 

Or you may call 410-786-1565 for assistance. This is not a toll-free number.

Unlike private sector COBRA, there is no Federal enforcement authority with respect to COBRA continuation coverage as it applies to state and local governmental employers and their group health plans. Rather, the law provides for a private cause of action if an individual is denied a COBRA right under such a group health plan. See Enforcement.

Federal employees are covered by a law similar to COBRA. Those employees should contact the personnel office serving their agency for more information on temporary extensions of health benefits.

  

 

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