The Senate is expected to vote on a fiscal 2010 Defense appropriations bill by this weekend that would extend a health insurance subsidy for laid-off workers through February 2010. The House has approved the subsidy extension for the COBRA program, which was tucked into the $636.3 billion Defense appropriations bill.
Senate vote on COBRA subsidy expected
The provision extends from nine to 15 months the subsidy whereby workers only pay 35% of the cost of COBRA coverage.
COBRA is a program that allows workers to continue their health insurance offered by employers for up to 18 months after they've lost their jobs, provided they pay the full amount of the benefits. The 65% federal subsidy was included in the federal stimulus law, enacted in February, but was only available for a maximum of nine months, up until Dec. 31. That meant that the unemployed who started receiving the subsidy in March saw it lapse on Dec. 1.
About 7 million people have taken the premium subsidy, according to the Defense appropriations bill summary. The same bill includes a short-term delay to the impending cuts to Medicare physician reimbursement.
A cloture vote on the bill is scheduled for early Friday, with a full vote expected by Saturday, according to a spokesman for the Senate Appropriations Committee.
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