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COBRA subsidy extended through end of March

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

Last week President Obama signed legislation to extend until March 31 eligibility for the 65%, 15-month COBRA premium subsidy to individuals who have involuntarily lost their jobs.

The Temporary Extension Act of 2010 (H.R. 4691), signed into law March 2, amends the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

Without the extension, workers laid off after Feb. 28 would have missed out on the subsidy. The law is retroactive, so workers who were involuntarily terminated on March 1 and 2 are eligible for the subsidy.

COBRA—the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act—allows workers to stay on their employers’ health insurance plans after they’ve been terminated if they keep up the premium payments. The 65% subsidies were originally enacted in February 2009 as part of the ARRA economic stimulus law.

The subsidies were set to expire at the end of 2009, but on Dec. 21, Obama extended eligibility through Feb. 28, 2010.

No word yet on whether Congress and the White House plan to push for additional extensions after March 31.

On HR's to-do list: Revise your COBRA notice to reflect the new March 31, 2010, subsidy eligibility expiration date.

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