COBRA Subsidy Extended

Looks like Congress is trying to make Santa’s “nice” list. The Senate, in particular, has been quite busy recently, not only clearing one of the last procedural hurdles in the way of a final vote on health care reform legislation, but also voting to extend the COBRA subsidy originally implemented in the stimulus package earlier this year.

Since the House already had approved the measure, President Obama wasted no time signing the bill to extend COBRA relief to unemployed workers.

Now, instead of applying to workers laid off through Dec. 31, the extension maintains the 65% subsidy on COBRA premiums for workers laid off through Feb. 28, 2010. In addition, the new law allows for another six months of subsidized coverage for unemployed Americans whose nine-month subsidy already had ended, and let individuals claim the subsidy retroactively.

And as a special holiday gift for employers (heavy sarcasm added), the extension law requires employers to notify and/or re-notify terminated workers about the new subsidy provisions.