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«Department of Health and Human Services has submitted this rule to the Office of the Federal Register. The official version of the rule will be ...»

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meet all of the requirements of this section, CMS may notify the plan sponsor, or other entity that filed the election, that it must submit any additional information that CMS has determined is necessary to meet those requirements. The additional information must be filed with CMS by

the later of the following dates:

–  –  –

(ii) The 45th day after the date of CMS's written notification requesting additional information.

(2) Timely response. For submissions via hard copy via U.S. Mail, CMS uses the postmark on the envelope in which the additional information is submitted to determine that the information is timely filed as specified under paragraph (d)(1) of this section. If the latest filing date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or a State or Federal holiday, CMS accepts a postmark on the next business day.

(3) Failure to respond timely. CMS may invalidate an election if the plan sponsor, or other entity that filed the election, fails to timely submit the additional information as specified under paragraph (d)(1) of this section.

(e) Notice to enrollees—(1) Mandatory notification. (i) A plan that makes the election described in this section must notify each affected enrollee of the election, and explain the consequences of the election. For purposes of this paragraph (e), if the dependent(s) of a participant reside(s) with the participant, a plan need only provide notice to the participant.

(ii) The notice must be in writing and, except as provided in paragraph (e)(2) of this section with regard to initial notices, must be provided to each enrollee at the time of enrollment under the plan, and on an annual basis no later than the last day of each plan year (as defined in

–  –  –

(iii) A plan may meet the notification requirements of this paragraph (e) by prominently printing the notice in a summary plan description, or equivalent description, that it provides to each enrollee at the time of enrollment, and annually. Also, when a plan provides a notice to an enrollee at the time of enrollment, that notice may serve as the initial annual notice for that enrollee.

(2) Initial notices. (i) If a plan is not governed by a collective bargaining agreement, with regard to the initial plan year to which an election under this section applies, the plan must provide the initial annual notice of the election to all enrollees before the first day of that plan year, and notice at the time of enrollment to all individuals who enroll during that plan year.

(ii) In the case of a collectively bargained plan, with regard to the initial plan year to which an election under this section applies, the plan must provide the initial annual notice of the election to all enrollees before the first day of the plan year, or within 30 days after the latest applicable date specified in paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section if the 30th day falls on or after the first day of the plan year. Also, the plan must provide a notice at the time of enrollment to individuals who— (A) Enroll on or after the first day of the plan year, when closure of the collective bargaining process is reached before the plan year begins; or (B) Enroll on or after the latest applicable date specified in paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section if that date falls on or after the first day of the plan year.

(3) Notice content. The notice must include at least the following information:

(i) The specific requirements described in paragraph (a)(1) of this section from which the plan sponsor is electing to exempt the plan, and a statement that, in general, Federal law imposes

–  –  –

(ii) A statement that Federal law gives the plan sponsor of a self-funded non-Federal governmental plan the right to exempt the plan in whole, or in part, from the listed requirements, and that the plan sponsor has elected to do so.

(iii) A statement identifying which parts of the plan are subject to the election.

(iv) A statement identifying which of the listed requirements, if any, apply under the terms of the plan, or as required by State law, without regard to an exemption under this section.

(f) Subsequent elections—(1) Election renewal. A plan sponsor may renew an election under this section through subsequent elections. The timeliness standards described in paragraph (c) of this section apply to election renewals under this paragraph (f).

(2) Form and manner of renewal. Except for the requirement to forward to CMS a copy of the notice to enrollees under paragraph (b)(1)(viii) of this section, the plan sponsor must comply with the election requirements of paragraph (b)(1) of this section. In lieu of providing a copy of the notice under (b)(1)(viii), the plan sponsor may include a statement that the notice has been, or will be, provided to enrollees as specified under paragraph (e) of this section.

(3) Election renewal includes provisions from which plan not previously exempted. If an election renewal includes a requirement described in paragraph (a)(1) of this section from which the plan sponsor did not elect to exempt the plan for the preceding plan year, the advance notification requirements of paragraph (e)(2) of this section apply with respect to the additional requirement(s) of paragraph (a) from which the plan sponsor is electing to exempt the plan.





(4) Special rules regarding renewal of an election under a collective bargaining agreement—(i) If protracted negotiations with respect to a new agreement result in an extension of the term of the prior agreement (as provided under paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section) under

–  –  –

notification requirements of paragraph (e)(1) of this section, and, following closure of the collective bargaining process, must file an election renewal with CMS as provided under paragraph (c)(2) of this section.

(ii) If a single plan applies to more than one bargaining unit, and the plan is governed by collective bargaining agreements of varying lengths, paragraph (c)(2) of this section, with respect to an election renewal, applies to the plan as governed by the agreement that results in the earliest filing date.

(g) Requirements not subject to exemption—(1) Genetic information. Without regard to an election under this section that exempts a non-Federal governmental plan from any or all of the provisions of §§146.111 and 146.121, the exemption election must not be construed to exempt the plan from any provisions of this part 146 that pertain to genetic information.

(2) Enforcement. CMS enforces these requirements as provided under paragraph (j) of this section.

(h) Effect of failure to comply with certification and notification requirements— (1) Substantial failure—(i) General rule. Except as provided in paragraph (h)(1)(iii) of this section, a substantial failure to comply with paragraph (e) or (g)(1) of this section results in the invalidation of an election under this section with respect to all plan enrollees for the entire plan year. That is, the plan is subject to all requirements of this part for the entire plan year to which the election otherwise would have applied.

(ii) Determination of substantial failure. CMS determines whether a plan has substantially failed to comply with a requirement of paragraph (e) or paragraph (g)(1) of this section based on all relevant facts and circumstances, including previous record of compliance,

–  –  –

learning of the violation. However, in general, a plan’s failure to provide a notice of the fact and consequences of an election under this section to an individual at the time of enrollment, or on an annual basis before a given plan year expires, constitutes a substantial failure.

(iii) Exceptions—(A) Multiple employers. If the plan is sponsored by multiple employers, and only certain employers substantially fail to comply with the requirements of paragraph (e) or (g)(1) of this section, then the election is invalidated with respect to those employers only, and not with respect to other employers that complied with those requirements, unless the plan chooses to cancel its election entirely.

(B) Limited failure to provide notice. If a substantial failure to notify enrollees of the fact and consequences of an election is limited to certain individuals, the election under this section is valid only if, for the plan year with respect to which the failure has occurred, the plan agrees not to apply the election with respect to the individuals who were not notified and so informs those individuals in writing.

(2) Examples—(i) Example 1. A self-funded, non-Federal group health plan is co-sponsored by 10 school districts. Nine of the school districts have fully complied with the requirements of paragraph (e) of this section, including providing notice to new employees at the time of their enrollment in the plan, regarding the group health plan’s exemption under this section from requirements of this part. One school district, which hired 10 new teachers during the summer for the upcoming school year, neglected to notify three of the new hires about the group health plan’s exemption election at the time they enrolled in the plan. The school district has substantially failed to comply with a requirement of paragraph (e) of this section with respect to these individuals. The school district learned of the oversight six weeks into the school year,

–  –  –

regarding the plan’s exemption under this section and that the exemption does not apply to them, or their dependents, during the plan year of their enrollment because of the plan’s failure to timely notify them of its exemption. The plan complies with the requirements of this part for these individuals for the plan year of their enrollment. CMS would not require the plan to come into compliance with the requirements of this part for other enrollees.

(ii) Example 2. Two non-Federal governmental employers cosponsor a self-funded group health plan. One employer substantially fails to comply with the requirements of paragraph (e) of this section. While the plan may limit the invalidation of the election to enrollees of the plan sponsor that is responsible for the substantial failure, the plan sponsors determine that administering the plan in that manner would be too burdensome. Accordingly, in this example, the plan sponsors choose to cancel the election entirely. Both plan sponsors come into compliance with the requirements of this part with respect to all enrollees for the plan year for which the substantial failure has occurred.

(i) Election invalidated. If CMS finds cause to invalidate an election under this section,

the following rules apply:

(1) CMS notifies the plan sponsor (and the plan administrator if other than the plan sponsor and the administrator’s address is known to CMS) in writing that CMS has made a preliminary determination that an election is invalid, and States the basis for that determination.

(2) CMS’s notice informs the plan sponsor that it has 45 days after the date of CMS’s notice to explain in writing why it believes its election is valid. The plan sponsor should provide applicable statutory and regulatory citations to support its position.

(3) CMS verifies that the plan sponsor’s response is timely filed as provided under

–  –  –

(4) If CMS’s preliminary determination that an election is invalid remains unchanged after CMS considers the plan sponsor’s timely response (or in the event that the plan sponsor fails to respond timely), CMS provides written notice to the plan sponsor (and the plan administrator if other than the plan sponsor and the administrator’s address is known to CMS) of CMS’s final determination that the election is invalid. Also, CMS informs the plan sponsor that, within 45 days of the date of the notice of final determination, the plan, subject to paragraph (i)(1)(iii) of this section, must comply with all requirements of this part for the specified period for which CMS has determined the election to be invalid.

(j) Enforcement. To the extent that an election under this section has not been filed or a non-Federal governmental plan otherwise is subject to one or more requirements of this part, CMS enforces those requirements under part 150 of this subchapter. This may include imposing a civil money penalty against the plan or plan sponsor, as determined under subpart C of part 150.

(k) Construction. Nothing in this section should be construed to prevent a State from

taking the following actions:

(1) Establishing, and enforcing compliance with, the requirements of State law (as defined in §146.143(d)(1)), including requirements that parallel provisions of title XXVII of the PHS Act, that apply to non-Federal governmental plans or sponsors.

(2) Prohibiting a sponsor of a non-Federal governmental plan within the State from making an election under this section.

PART 147 – HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM REQUIREMENTS FOR THE GROUP

AND INDIVIDUAL HEALTH INSURANCE MARKETS

–  –  –

Authority: Secs. 2701 through 2763, 2791, and 2792 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 300gg through 300gg-63, 300gg-91, and 300gg-92), as amended.

7. Section 147.104 is amended by revising paragraph (b)(1)(i) and adding paragraph (h)

to read as follows:

§147.104 Guaranteed availability of coverage.

* * * * *

–  –  –

(1) * * * (i) Group market. (A) Subject to paragraph (b)(1)(i)(B) of this section, a health insurance issuer in the group market must allow an employer to purchase health insurance coverage for a group health plan at any point during the year.

(B) In the case of a group health plan in the small group market that cannot comply with employer contribution or group participation rules for the offering of health insurance coverage, as allowed under applicable State law and in the case of a QHP offered in the SHOP, as permitted by §156.1250(c) of this subchapter, a health insurance issuer may restrict the availability of coverage to an annual enrollment period that begins November 15 and extends through December 15 of each calendar year.



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