Obama Signs Defense Spending Bill With COBRA Extension
President Obama has signed into law the $636.3 billion fiscal year 2010 defense spending bill (HR 3326), which includes funding for a two-month extension of subsidized COBRA benefits, Bloomberg/Seattle Times reports (Bloomberg/Seattle Times, 12/21).
As part of the economic stimulus package, workers laid off between Sept. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2009, are eligible for a subsidy to go toward maintaining their employer-sponsored health insurance. Under COBRA, such workers can keep their employer-sponsored health coverage for 18 months if they pay the full premium, plus an administrative fee.
The defense spending legislation continues subsidy eligibility for workers who are laid off between Jan. 1, 2010, and Feb. 28, 2010. The legislation also extends the life of the subsidy from nine months to 15 (McQueen, Wall Street Journal, 12/22).
The legislation also maintains current Medicare physician payments for two additional months (CNN, 12/19). A 21% payment reduction was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2010 (California Healthline, 12/17).
In addition, the defense spending bill Obama signed:
- Maintains 2009 federal poverty guidelines; and
- Provides additional funding for the food stamp program (Spangler, Detroit Free Press, 12/19).