Congressional leaders have resolved conflicts between the House and Senate versions of legislation that could subsidize health benefits for laid-off workers.
“The bills were really quite similar, and I’m please to announce that we’ve been able to bridge those differences,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said today.
A final, detailed description of the agreement was not yet available at press time, but a draft that was available included substantial funding for subsidizing Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, group health coverage continuation benefits for laid-off workers.
The COBRA subsidy provision is a major component of a scaled-down, $789 billion version of H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Congressional leaders hope to approve the stimulus package and send it to President Obama for his signature as early as Friday.
The final version appears to provide $21.4 billion in COBRA health benefits subsidies, down from $29 billion in the bill passed by the House in late January.
A Treasury Department mechanism would pay 60% of eligible workers’ COBRA premiums for 9 months. Individual filers with annual incomes over $125,000 and married filers with annual incomes over $250,000 would not be eligible for the subsidies.