135-48.39. Operations during state of disaster or emergency.

(a) For the purposes of this section, the term "state of disaster" shall mean that one of the following has occurred:

(1) The Governor or legislature has declared a state of emergency under G.S. 166A-19.20.

(2) The Governor has issued a disaster declaration under G.S. 116A-19.21.

(3) The President of the United States has issued a major disaster declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5121, et seq., as amended, for this State, for an area within this State, or for an area in which a member or an employing unit is located.

(4) The Governor, legislature, or other governing body has declared a state of emergency or disaster, or the equivalent, for an area in which a member or employing unit is located.

(b) Subject to approval by the Board of Trustees, when there is a state of disaster, the State Treasurer may order that members, employing units, or both adversely affected by the state of disaster shall have the option of deferring premium or debt payments that are due during the time period in which there is a state of disaster. The State Treasurer may order the expiration of the option to defer premium or debt payments prior to the end of the time period in which there is a state of disaster but may not extend the option beyond that period.

(c) Any option to defer premium or debt payments offered under this section shall be made for a period of 30 days from the last day the premium or debt payment may have been made under the terms of the Plan, policy, contract, or agreement. This 30-day deferral period may also be applied to any statute, rule, or other policy or contract provision that imposes a time limit on the Plan or a member to perform any act related to the Plan during the time period in which there is a state of disaster. This 30-day deferral period may be extended by the State Treasurer in 30-day increments, subject to approval by the Board of Trustees. A deferral period shall not last beyond 90 days from the last day of the time period in which there is a state of disaster.

(d) An option to defer premium or debt payments offered under this section may be limited to a specific category of members or employing units, as the state of disaster necessitates and as determined by the State Treasurer.

(e) Nothing in this section shall be construed as to authorize the nonpayment of premiums or debt. All premium payments in arrears shall be paid to the Plan. If premiums in arrears are not paid, coverage shall lapse as of the last day of the month for which premiums were paid in full. The member shall be responsible for all medical expenses incurred since the effective date of the lapse in coverage. (2020-3, s. 4.21(b).)