Bill To Extend COBRA Subsidies Introduced In Senate
Senators introduced legislation Thursday to extend COBRA to help unemployed workers and their families with health coverage. WKYC-TV, a NBC affiliate in Ohio, reports. "U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Robert P. Casey (D-PA) introduced a bill Thursday to extend the 'COBRA' subsidy which helps unemployed workers and their families afford temporary health care [coverage]. The bill would extend and expand the COBRA subsidy included in the Recovery Act, a subsidy that is set to expire Dec. 1 unless Congress acts to renew it. The bill is also co-sponsored by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)."
"The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA) established a nine-month subsidy to help unemployed workers purchase temporary COBRA coverage for themselves and their families. The original COBRA subsidy included in the Recovery Act was based in part on Brown's Coverage Continuity Act (S.29) which he introduced in January, 2009. The provision in ARRA established a nine-month subsidy to help laid-off workers purchase COBRA coverage -- with the federal government covering 65 percent of the health premium. The goals of this legislation were to ensure coverage continuity and prevent a spike in Medicaid enrollment" (Wendel, 11/5).
WHTM-TV, an ABC News affiliate in Pennsylvania, reports that the bill would "extend the subsidy an extra six months to 15 months. It would additionally increase the subsidy amount from 65 percent to 75 percent of the workers' premiums.The extension would also expand eligibility to include workers who lose their employer-sponsored health benefits because of a reduction in working hours. Currently, only laid-off workers are eligible for the subsidy" (11/5).
Related KHN story: End of COBRA Subsidy Rattles The Newly Unemployed (Schmitt, 10/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.