Small Employers Alert: AB 23 - Cal COBRA Amendment

Small employers - take note! Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 23, which implements the federal COBRA amendments contained in the "stimulus" bill (ARRA) and applies it to small employers covered by Cal-COBRA. This is an "urgency statute" that took effect on May 12, when it was signed into law.

Is your head spinning? Mine too. We're a small employer, too.

Well, the good news is most small employers rely on their health plans to distribute Cal-COBRA notices. So, just check with your insurers and brokers about this, mmmkay? I hope they will have this covered.

In case they don't - The new law will require notices to be sent to anyone having a qualifying event between 9/1/08 and May 12, 2009 ASAP (May 26, even). The notices explain eligibility for premium discounts under ARRA and give those who did not elect Cal-COBRA a second chance to do so.

The premium discounts offered to Cal-COBRA-eligible employees will result in tax deductions taken by the insurance companies in the case of Cal-COBRA. There will be verification of Cal-COBRA qualifying events to ensure those electing Cal-COBRA and seeking premium discounts are eligible under ARRA.

Incidentally, if you've missed all the hullabaloo about ARRA and the COBRA amendments, you can catch up here.