Senate Panel to Consider Nine-Month COBRA Subsidy

By Staff Report

Jan. 23, 2009

Economic stimulus legislation to be considered by the Senate Finance Committee next week would provide temporary federal COBRA health insurance premium subsidies to employees who are laid off.

Under the measure, the federal government would pay 65 percent of COBRA premiums for employees who lose their jobs between September 1, 2008, through December 31, 2009. The subsidy would be available for up to nine months.

The provision is far more limited than the COBRA section of the economic stimulus bill approved Thursday, January 22, by the House Ways and Means Committee. Under that measure, beneficiaries 55 and older and employees who have worked at least 10 years for an employer could retain COBRA coverage until eligible for Medicare. That would be a huge change from current law that allows COBRA coverage for 18 months.

In addition, the Ways and Means Committee bill, which is expected to be considered by the full House next week, would provide a 12-month federal COBRA premium subsidy for those losing their jobs between September 1, 2008, and December 31, 2009.

Filed by Jerry Geisel of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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