Gov. Rell recently signed into law Public Act 10-13 (HB-5219), which permits certain employees who lose group health coverage to elect state or COBRA continuation coverage for up to 30 months.

Previously, employees who lost coverage because of layoff, reduction of hours, leave of absence, or termination of employment were eligible to keep their continuation coverage for 18 months.

Now, with this change, employees covered under fully insured employer group health plans in Connecticut can extend coverage for 30 months. Individuals who are currently on state or federal COBRA continuation due to one of the above events are also eligible to extend their current continuation under the new law.

The law applies to Connecticut group health insurance policies issued by a health insurer or HMO to employers of all sizes.

The law does not apply to self-insured employer health plans or to policies issued outside of Connecticut. The new legislation does not apply to dental, vision or prescription drug coverage that is part of a free-standing policy.

The law does apply if the dental, vision, or prescription drug coverage is combined with, and included under, the group health policy.

It is important to note that, although Connecticut has extended the maximum continuation period to 30 months, the maximum period of premium subsidy available for qualified employees on or before May 31, 2010, under federal subsidy law is 15 months. Eligible individuals would be responsible for full payment of the continuation premium for the period after the federal subsidy expires.