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COBRA & Local Government Health Plans

Reference Number: MTAS-894
Reviewed Date: 10/21/2022

While ERISA generally does not govern the administration of local government health plans, amendments to the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) provide that local governments offer the continuation of coverage. State and local government health plans are subject to the continuation provisions contained in PHSA Public Health Service Act) but not the provisions contained in ERISA or the Code. PHSA provides virtually identical coverage requirements with the exception of financial penalties or an enforcement scheme. There are no daily penalties available to participants or beneficiaries for a missed COBRA notice. In fact, the PHSA authorizes only "appropriate equitable relief." Therefore, participants and beneficiaries in a local governmental plan are precluded from recovering fines, attorney's fees, compensatory damages, punitive damages, or interest. However, courts do look to ERISA-COBRA cases for guidance with PHSA-COBRA administration and rulings.