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COBRA subsidy extension set for full Senate vote

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WASHINGTON—Tax legislation that would further extend COBRA health insurance premium subsidies moved closer to passage when the Senate voted 66-34 Tuesday to stop debate on the measure.

The Senate action sets the stage for a final floor vote on the bill, H.R. 4213, which would extend the 65%, 15-month federal premium subsidy to employees involuntarily terminated through Dec. 31.

The Tuesday vote followed a stopgap extension for employees terminated involuntarily from March 1 through March 31 that President Barack Obama signed into law last week.

The Senate measure, which was introduced as a substitute amendment to H.R. 4213, a bill already passed by the House, also would allow employees who first lost group coverage due to a reduction in hours and then were terminated to receive the COBRA premium subsidy, so long as certain conditions were met.

Other provisions would give employers more time to make required contributions to their pension plans and extend other expiring U.S. Tax Code sections.

Following expected approval of the latest COBRA extension by the Senate, the House would again have to vote on the measure.