KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Senate Democrats Eye COBRA Subsidy Extension Through Memorial Day

Democrats are trying to get Republicans to extend jobless benefits -- including a program to subsidize health insurance coverage for laid-off workers -- through Memorial Day, The Associated Press reports.

"The extension is needed, said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to give House-Senate negotiators more time to iron out a separate and more complicated bill to extend jobless benefits through the end of the year and revive expired tax breaks enjoyed by both individuals and businesses." Democrats are hopeful about securing a couple of Republican votes to help pass the benefit extension, but Republicans are voicing concern over the $18 billion cost that isn't paid for and uses instead emergency debt spending. "The expiration of the programs means that the newly jobless aren't eligible to sign up for health insurance subsidies but that people currently covered under the so-called COBRA law retain the benefit. People living in flood plains can't sign up for flood insurance, while the Medicare program has delayed payments to doctors rather than imposing a 21 percent cut. Eligibility for the expired programs would be restored retroactively. The House would have to vote again on the measure, assuming Democrats are successful in extending its expiration date past Memorial Day" (Taylor, 4/14).

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