Unemployment Update: House passes COBRA Subsidy Extension…

Finally!!!!  Now we need action in the Senate. It feels like the first time the House has done something for the real people doesn’t it?? How about some Lou Gramm Foreigner-Unplugged

WorkforceManagement:

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation Wednesday, December 16, that would extend the federal subsidy of COBRA health insurance premiums for employees who are involuntarily terminated.Embedded in H.R. 3326, a measure appropriating funds for the Department of Defense, the nine-month, 65 percent premium subsidy would be extended by six months to a total of 15 months. It would apply to those who lose their jobs through February 28, 2010. Under current law, employees who lose their jobs after December 31 are ineligible for the subsidy.

The measure, approved on 395-34 vote, also would provide an additional six months of subsidized coverage for beneficiaries whose nine-month COBRA premium subsidy has run out.

In addition, the legislation would give beneficiaries whose subsidy ran out and who didn’t pay the full premium a second chance to opt for coverage. For example, a beneficiary whose nine months of subsidized coverage ran out November 30 and who didn’t pay the regular unsubsidized December premium could pay the 35 percent premium share in January and receive coverage for December.

The legislation would require employers to notify current COBRA beneficiaries and future beneficiaries of the new 15-month premium subsidy.

The House is also expected to take up another appropriations bill, H.R. 2847, with a provision that would extend the premium subsidy to those who lose their jobs through June 30, 2010.

More on COBRA and other available resources for those who may have lost it, are losing it awaiting the Senate to take action, or cannot afford it courtesy of the WSJ:

…a companion bill has been introduced in the Senate that also would extend the Cobra subsidy for six months, up to a total of 15 months, and increase the subsidy to 75%. But it’s not known if the legislation will pass or even come to a vote….

…Many unemployed workers who first started receiving the Cobra subsidy in March lost it as of Nov. 30, and many more will start losing the subsidy this month. Workers whose Cobra eligibility begins on or after Jan. 1, 2010 won’t get the subsidy even if they’re terminated by Dec. 31, unless Congress extends the law (UPDATE from MiM: HOUSE has extended, waiting on Senate)

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December 17, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Economy, Healthcare, Politics, Unemployment Statistics. 3 comments.

Ezra Klein acknowledges ‘the insurance industry is not a particularly profitable industry’…

Word up. I actually agree with something a member of journOlist said.

Ezra Klein, Wapo:

…The insurance industry is not a particularly profitable industry. To be more specific, they’re the 86th most profitable industry as measured by profit margins, with an average margin of 3.3 percent. That’s lower than drug manufacturers (16.5 percent), health information services (9.3 percent), home health care (8.4 percent), medical labs and research (8.2 percent), medical instruments and supplies (6.8 percent), biotech firms (6.7 percent), generic drug manufacturers (6.6 percent), and much else. That’s not to pretend that 3.3 percent is nothing, but it’s hard to see how that’s a primary driver of health-care spending, much less the growth in health-care spending….

But of course, Max Baucus calls for an excise tax on them anyway, one that they will be forced to pass on to we consumers, thereby preventing them from containing premium increases, and thereby hitting the Snowe ‘trigger’ and dumping us all on to the Zeke Emanuel/Liverpool Pathway to Doom.

Doom I tell you!

Washington Wire has a copy of the health-overhaul plan that Sen. Max Baucus presented to the “Gang of Six” bipartisan negotiators over the weekend.

We reported the outlines this morning, but some details struck us as noteworthy. To pay for the plan, there are across-the-board fees not just for health insurers but also for pharmaceutical manufacturers, medical device makers and clinical laboratories. The hits are likely to arouse industry concerns, although companies also have a lot to gain from a health bill that expands coverage to millions of uninsured.

Like other bills, the proposal from Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, would require most people to carry health insurance. But it slaps higher penalties on those who refuse, ranging from $750 for the poorest single people to as high as $3,800 a year for families. By contrast, employers wouldn’t be required to provide coverage for employees. They would only have to pay a contribution for employees who get tax credits to buy individual insurance.

Doctors may be irked by some of the payment changes in the Baucus plan. In particular, one measure seeks to give primary-care doctors higher Medicare payments, and funding it by cutting payments to other doctors….

Repeat, hey DC, LEAVE US PEEPS ALONE!

You know, Canada is already Creating jobs, Aussies are doing better as well. Gee wonder why USA is not creating jobs yet? Hmm could it be b/c they didn’t spend 700 BILLION in a stimulus that did not stimulate job creation but instead assured a long term contraction under an unsustainable deficit? See the Aussie CONSUMER is pulling them out of it, which the US consumer would do as well, were DC to HIT THE BRAKES!

…Central bank Governor Glenn Stevens said: “Economic conditions in Australia have been stronger than expected a few months ago, with both consumer spending and exports notable for their resilience. Measures of confidence have recovered a good deal of ground. This suggests that the risk of a severe contraction in the Australian economy has abated. The most likely outcome in the near term is a period of sluggish output, with consumer spending likely to slow somewhat and investment remaining weak. Stronger dwelling activity and public spending will start to provide more support to overall demand soon, and growth is likely to firm into 2010…

Could it be we are not recovering the way Canada and Australia are b/c the loons in DC are acting out textbook examples of what NOT to do in a recession?

ie raising taxes, raising fees, expanding every level of government, enacting layer upon layer of regulation…and in varied ways scaring the consumer and leaving no safe haven in capital markets (except Gold)..

You do not need to be a SOOPERGENIUS to see this, and maybe that is the problem. The smartest folks in the room seem to have an amazing dearth of common sense. I do not think Keynes would have written the stimulus bill ANYTHING like the way they put our spendulus together..and had he seen the size of the deficit and state of consumer balance sheets I am confident he would find a need for incentivizing job creation through TARGETED tax brakes to encourage capital investment and economic expansion…

Cameo courtesy of  DiamondChick

September 10, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Finance, Obama Administration, Politics, Taxes, Unemployment Statistics, Wall St. 2 comments.

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