House Lawmakers Approve COBRA Subsidy Extension

December 16, 2009 ( – The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill that would extend federal COBRA health coverage cost subsidies for involuntarily terminated employees.

Business Insurance said the COBRA measure was contained in a Defense Department spending bill, H.R. 3326, that passed on a 395 to 34 vote. The nine-month, 65% premium subsidy would be extended by six months to a total of 15 months.

The measure also would provide an additional six months of subsidized coverage for beneficiaries whose nine-month COBRA premium subsidy has run out. According to Business Insurance, the legislation would give beneficiaries whose subsidy expired a second chance to choose coverage.

The measure also would cover employees involuntarily terminated up to February 28, 2010. Under the current law, those involuntarily losing their jobs after the end of 2009 are no longer eligible for the subsidy.

The news report said House lawmakers are expected to consider another spending measure, H.R. 2847, that includes a provision extending eligibility for the subsidy to those who lose their jobs through June 30, 2010.