On December 19, 2009, President Obama signed into law the Fiscal Year 2010 Defense Appropriations Act (the "Act"), which included an extension of the eligibility period and duration of the COBRA premium subsidy for assistance eligible individuals. Employers should be aware by now that the COBRA premium subsidy has been extended, as they are required to take several specific actions with regard to the extension.

Particularly, the notice to individuals describing the extension must be provided no later than February 17, 2010. This notice must be provided to those employees who were

  1. assistance eligible individuals, or
  2. experienced a qualifying event related to a voluntary or involuntary termination of employment at any time between October 31, 2009 and December 19, 2009. 

The Department of Labor has model notices available and employers who have not yet provided the required notice should make it a priority to ensure compliance with the Act.