Are further extensions of the COBRA premium subsidy likely?
It isn’t clear. While the Senate earlier approved a tax bill with a provision to extend the subsidy to employees laid off through Dec. 31, 2010, the House of Representatives stripped that provision prior to passing the tax bill in May. The provision was removed by House Democratic leaders amid growing concerns about approving measures that will increase the federal budget deficit. The seven-month extension was projected by congressional budget analysts to cost nearly $8 billion. The provision also is not part of the revamped tax bill unveiled in June by Senate Democratic leaders and now being considered by the Senate. One amendment, though, proposed by Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., would extend the subsidy to employees laid off through Nov. 30, 2010. It isn’t known yet whether the Senate will approve that amendment or any others to extend the subsidy. In the absence of an extension, employees laid-off since June 1 are not eligible for the subsidy.