BenefitMall would like to announce that the House passed a COBRA provision
extending the eligibility period for two months and extending the maximum
duration of the federal assistance from nine months to 15 months.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a provision that extends the
65 percent COBRA premium subsidy through February 28, 2010, and expands it by
six months. House lawmakers also set the stage for another subsidy extension
sometime in the future by making it part of the upcoming Jobs bill.
The new subsidy provision, passed December 16, was attached to the Department of
Defense Appropriations Act, 2010 — a “must-pass” bill that included funding for
the Defense Department. The bill now goes to the Senate. The Senate is expected
to pass it before the end of the year.
Under the current law, those involuntarily losing their jobs after the end of
2009 would no longer be eligible for the subsidy.
Under the new subsidy extension provision:
The end date
of eligibility for the ARRA subsidy changes from December 31, 2009, to
February 28, 2010.
premium subsidy expands to 15 months, increased from current nine months.
have lost their subsidy by completing their nine months in November or later
would be grandfathered in under the new legislation.
terminations that occur on or before February 28, 2010, would be eligible for
the subsidy, regardless of when the individual’s COBRA eligibility period
begins. This addresses a Congressional oversight in the original bill
pertaining to December 31, 2009, qualifying events.
notices will be sent with information regarding the amendments to Assistance
Eligible Individuals, as well as those experiencing a COBRA qualifying event
consisting of termination of employment.
Further Details of the Subsidy Extension
subsidy provision requires additional notices describing the new 15-month
premium subsidy. It will be sent to all assistance-eligible individuals who
are on COBRA on or after November 1, 2009, or whose qualifying event is a
termination of employment occurring on or after that date.
also allows a period for the retroactive payment of premiums for
assistance-eligible individuals whose subsidy period expired on November 16,
2009, and who failed to continue to pay their premiums.
The same refund/credit rules under the original ARRA bill apply to any
assistance-eligible individual whose subsidy expired in November and who has
since paid the full COBRA premium.
In addition, the provision addresses a Congressional oversight in the original
subsidy by making eligibility for the subsidy hinge only on the involuntary
termination of employment occurring on or before the new February 28, 2010,
sunset date. Subsidy eligibility is no longer tied to the date the COBRA
eligibility period begins. Under the original subsidy bill, anyone whose
benefits terminate on December 31, 2009, would not be eligible for the COBRA
premiums reduction program under ARRA because COBRA eligibility also had to
occur on or before December 31, 2009. If a worker is involuntarily terminated on
December 31, 2009, COBRA eligibility would begin on January 1, 2010, making them
ineligible for the subsidy.
The House Rules Committee has introduced another subsidy extension in H.R. 2847,
Jobs for Main Street Act, 2010. The COBRA provision in this bill would extend
the subsidy until June 30, 2010. Although the Senate will not be taking up this
bill this year, it presumably will be a starting point for the Jobs bill
discussions next year.
BenefitMall will continue to provide you with more information regarding the
extension as well as other health care changes as we move forward in this
debate. If you have any questions regarding these changes, please contact your
local BenefitMall Sales Team.
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