House Republican Leaders Revive COBRA Extension Bill

May 15, 2008 ( - The U.S. House Republican leadership Wednesday unveiled an agenda that would allow Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) beneficiaries to retain coverage indefinitely after ending service with an employer.

According to Business Insurance, the proposal is called the “American Families Agenda,” and Republican leaders say the time limitations on COBRA coverage need to be lifted to assure, among other things, that employees and their families can enjoy the same coverage “they have been accustomed to during a prolonged job search.”

Under current law, employees who quit or who are let go can keep employer coverage for 18 months and in the instance of death, divorce, or marital separation, beneficiaries can keep coverage for 36 months. In both cases, employers can charge beneficiaries a premium equal to 102% of the group rate.

According to the news report, H.R. 2047, to remove the 18- and 36-month limitations on COBRA coverage, was introduced more than a year ago by Representative Charlie Dent, R-Pa., but no action has been taken on the measure.

Periodic attempts have been made to expand COBRA coverage.