Bush Signs Trade Legislation that Includes Displaced-Worker Benefits
President Bush yesterday signed into law trade legislation (HR 3009) that includes provisions to help American workers displaced by international trade purchase health insurance, the New York Times reports. The bill allows the president to present trade agreements to Congress for straight up-or-down votes without amendments through 2007 (Bumiller, New York Times, 8/7). The legislation includes a 10-year, $12 billion provision to give displaced workers health and other benefits (Sobieraj, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 8/6). The bill provides uninsured trade-displaced workers with a refundable tax credit to cover 65% of the cost of their health insurance premiums. The workers could use the tax credits to purchase health insurance through COBRA, the 1986 Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which allows unemployed workers to retain employer-sponsored health coverage by paying 102% of the premiums, or through state-sponsored health insurance purchasing pools and high-risk pools. Secondary workers -- those who lose their jobs because they provide services for American industries affected by international trade -- can also receive the tax credits (California Healthline, 8/2). According to the Washington Post, passing the trade bill is "one of the ... biggest legislative accomplishments of Bush's presidency" (Allen/Blustein, Washington Post, 8/7). NPR's "All Things Considered" yesterday reported on Bush's signing of the trade bill (Fessler, "All Things Considered," NPR, 8/6). The full segment is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.