Some of the provisions in the COVID Relief bill make significant short-term changes to the rules governing the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA). Specifically, the legislation, which President Biden will sign into law today, allows individuals eligible for coverage under COBRA to maintain their employer-sponsored coverage after a layoff, furlough or reduction in hours without paying any premiums through September 30, 2021. Additionally, it provides a refundable tax credit for employers and group health plans for the full amount of COBRA coverage premiums. Furthermore, DOL and IRS have issued updated guidance on certain timeframes relating group health plans and other welfare and pension plans. The prior guidance provided that plans had to disregard the period from March 1, 2020 until 60 days after the announced end of the COVID-19 National Emergency. The new guidance provides that the applicable periods must be disregarded until the earlier of 1 year from the date first eligible for relief; or 60 days after the end of the COVID-19 National Emergency (the “outbreak period”). Under no circumstances will a disregarded period exceed 1 year.