OCA’s ARPA Operational Update (Phase 2)
On Wednesday, April 7, the Dept. of Labor (DOL) posted ARPA FAQs and model notices to help employers comply with the COBRA guidelines outlined in the ARPA legislation.
What We Now Know
The new FAQs provided by the DOL reaffirmed much of what we already knew. We anticipate additional guidance in coming weeks (we are hearing it could be as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday of this week) as the DOL, IRS, and other federal agencies answer more questions regarding exactly how reimbursement for the subsidy will work, among other questions.
We now have ARPA model notices to reference. As previously communicated, OCA was waiting on these model notices before issuing any communication to assistance eligible individuals (AEIs). OCA will now begin working on phase 2 of our ARPA operational plans, which includes the issuance of the required ARPA notices.
What Clients Need to Know…For Now
- For starters, don’t worry. OCA will be helping our clients every step of the way so that they remain complaint with ARPA. To stay up to date, please continue to visit our ARPA resource page at oca125.com/subsidyfaqs/.
- Secondly, make sure you respond to OCA’s ARPA Verification email. This email provided clients with their list of potential AEIs and required a response back using OCA’s ARPA Verification Form. Only employers subject to Federal COBRA and who had a termination or reduction of hours in the last 17 months would have received this email.
- Currently, we are reviewing the DOL model notices and consulting with our legal counsel as historically, the notices provided by OCA have included more robust language than those provided by Federal Agencies. Keep in mind that ARPA requires the notices be sent by May 31, 2021, so we are still well within the timeframe to remain compliant. We will send a follow up email once we have an exact timeframe of when OCA will be issuing the ARPA notices.
- We recommend clients maintain a business as usual process for the month of April. Since so much of ARPA is still in flux, we are advising existing COBRA participants to continue paying their monthly premium payments. If it is later determined that an individual is eligible for the subsidy, but had paid their April (and any future) premium prior to receiving the ARPA notice, OCA will be refunding the paid premium to the participant. To help prevent the ebb and flow of refunds, OCA will be limiting its premium remittance schedule to the employer.
- Lastly, based on the DOL model notices it appears that all eligible AEIs will be asked to “apply” for the ARPA premium assistance. AEIs will need to complete a “Request for Treatment as an Assistance Eligible Individual.” To view the DOL sample model of this request, please click here. This form will be included in OCA’s ARPA notice and will be collected by OCA for subsidy confirmation.
DOL Issues ARPA FAQs and Model Notices
- COBRA Premium Subsidy dedicated page, available at https://www.dol.gov/COBRA-subsidy
- FAQs, available at https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/EBSA/about-ebsa/our-activities/resource-center/faqs/cobra-premium-assistance-under-arp.pdf
- General Notice and Election Notice, available at https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/cobra/premium-subsidy/model-general-and-election-notice.pdf
- Notice in Connection with Extended Election Period, available at https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/cobra/premium-subsidy/model-extended-election-periods-notice.pdf
- Alternative Notice, available at https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/cobra/premium-subsidy/model-alternative-election-notice.pdf
- Notice of Expiration of Premium Assistance, available at https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/cobra/premium-subsidy/notice-of-premium-assistance-expiration-premium.pdf
- Summary of the COBRA Premium Assistance Provisions, available at https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/cobra/premium-subsidy/summary-of-provisions.pdf
For more information, please visit OCA’s ARPA resource page at oca125.com/subsidyfaqs/.