The Senate could vote on legislation that would extend current health benefits for the unemployed and tax credits for COBRA coverage that goes along with it as early as Feb. 8 as part of a still-murky series of legislative packages aimed at improving job growth across the country.
COBRA extension planned; doc pay freeze mulled
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced the initiative during a Capitol Hill news conference. “For Senate Democrats, creating jobs is job No. 1,” he said.
Additionally, some lawmakers are eyeing the bills as a way to also carry a handful of perennial Medicare provisions, including what could be a short-term freeze on Medicare payments to physicians.
Last December, Congress passed and the president signed a broader defense spending package that carried with it provisions to extend the 65% COBRA premium subsidy through the end of February for employees who lost their jobs over a specified period of time.
Under the measure, employees who involuntarily lose their jobs through Feb. 28 would be eligible for the subsidy. It's unclear how long the subsidies will be expanded. While the Senate leaders said they want to take quick action on boosting employment, details of a final bill have yet to emerge.
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