Federal COBRA health insurance premium subsidies would be extended and expanded under legislation that two top Senate Democrats introduced Monday, March 1.
The bill proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, would extend the 65 percent, 15-month subsidy to employees involuntarily terminated from March 1 through December 31.
A previous congressional extension of the subsidy expired Sunday, February 28. Unless Congress acts, employees laid off as of March 1 no longer are eligible for the subsidy.
The Senate is expected to begin debate Tuesday, March 2, on the measure, which was introduced as a substitute amendment to a bill, H.R. 4213, already passed by the House of Representatives.
The Senate measure also would allow employees who first lost group coverage due to a reduction in hours and then were terminated to receive the COBRA premium subsidy so long as certain conditions were met.
Other provisions in the bill would extend expiring sections of the U.S. Tax Code.
The introduction of the Senate bill came in the wake of the House last week approving legislation, H.R. 4681, that would extend the subsidy through March 31.