Sens. Robert Casey (D-PA), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and 14 other senators introduced a tax bill amendment Wednesday to enable employees laid off from June 1 through November 30 to be eligible for COBRA premium subsidies.

“Not extending COBRA premium assistance will hurt hundreds of thousands of people in Pennsylvania and across the country and it will add further strain on our recovering economy," Casey said.

On June 1, INN reported that under pressure to trim spending, House managers had dropped the COBRA extension from the American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act of 2010.

The amendment, proposed yesterday, to extend COBRA premium assistance is also cosponsored by Senators Pat Leahy (D-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI), John Kerry (D-MA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Jack Reed (D-RI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mark Begich (D-AK), Roland Burris (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Al Franken (D-MN).

In addition, Sens. Casey and Brown also sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) urging support for an extension of COBRA premium assistance.  Senators Leahy, Levin, Chris Dodd (D-CT), Arlen Specter (D-PA), Kerry, Harkin, Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Akaka, Wyden, Reed, Stabenow, Lautenberg, Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Whitehouse, Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Gillibrand, Begich, Franken and Burris also signed the letter.

Without the extension of the COBRA Premium Assistance Program a report from the National Employment Law Projects predicts as many as 150,000 Americans each month will lose out on the subsidies necessary to afford quality health care.

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