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WASHINGTON-Federal regulators say there is no truth to a rumor circulating among employers and benefit consultants that the government will extend a June 1 deadline for employers to notify certain former employees about their prior health care coverage.

That deadline, set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, phases in, starting June 1, a requirement that employers furnish employees with statements certifying coverage.

Starting June 1, employers are to provide certification statements to employees who lost coverage from June 1, 1996, through Sept. 30, 1996, and who request statements.

For employees who lost coverage from Oct. 1, 1996, through May 31, 1997, employers have a choice of providing certification statements to employees or informing them when they can obtain the statements.

Employees who lose coverage after June 1, 1997, generally must be given the statements.

According to the rumor, the federal agencies in charge of enforcing HIPAA are going to push back the June 1 compliance date about two weeks. Officials with the agencies-the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor-say the June 1 compliance date remains in effect and will not be delayed.