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House rejects bill containing health premium subsidy provisions

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The House of Representatives on Friday overwhelmingly rejected a trade bill with provisions that would renew federal health insurance premium subsidies for employees who lost their jobs due to foreign competition or worked for companies whose pension plans failed.

Under the measure, H.R. 1314, which the House rejected on a 302-126 vote, the federal government would pay 72.5% of premiums for health plan coverage, like COBRA, for people who were laid off from their jobs due to foreign competition, and for retirees ages 55 through 64 in pension plans that were taken over by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.

The premium subsidy also would be available for plans offered through voluntary employee beneficiary associations set up for those who worked in such industries as steel and auto parts manufacturing that failed and went out of business.

Known as the health coverage tax credit, the subsidy expired in 2013. The legislation, which the Senate earlier approved, would extend the premium subsidy through the end of 2019.

The Obama administration and supporters of the broader bill are expected to try to convince House lawmakers to reconsider the legislation next week.

The House rejected the broader bill for reasons unrelated to the measure's health premium subsidy provisions, observers said.