Tuesday, March 30, 2010

COBRA subsidy extension not passed before Congressional recess

The Senate adjourned Friday for a two-week recess without taking action on a second temporary extension of the federal COBRA health insurance premium subsidy.

The Temporary Extension Act of 2010, passed by Congress on March 2, extended the eligibility period for the 15-month 65% premium subsidy to those involuntarily terminated from March 1 through March 31, 2010. This short-term extension was intended to give Congress time to develop broader legislation that would extend these programs through the end of the year, but with the month of March being consumed by the push for health reform, this legislation has yet to be developed.

The House approved a second temporary extension that would extend subsidy eligibility through April 30; however, the Senate was unable to vote on the bill before the Easter recess due to debate across party lines on how the subsidy extension would be funded.

The Senate is expected to take up the measure soon after lawmakers return to Capitol Hill on April 12. According to recent reports, the premium subsidies would be retroactive to April 1 if the bill is approved.

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