H.R. 4691 was signed by President Obama on March 2, 2010 and provides a further extension
of the COBRA Subsidy established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of
2009 (ARRA) until March 31, 2010. This stopgap measure allows Congress the time
necessary to work out details on a further extension expected to take the date out
to December 31, 2010. This current measure retains the 15 month maximum subsidy
period but also adds a new category of Assistance Eligible Individual. While a reduction
of hours per se does not make an individual eligible for the subsidy, a termination
of employment that follows a reduction of hours that occurs after September 1, 2008
followed by an involuntary termination occurring after March 2, 2010 may be eligible.
The individual who lost their coverage due to the hour reduction, whether they elected
COBRA or not will be deemed to experience a Qualifying Event if the involuntary termination
occurs after March 2nd. The COBRA period reverts back to the original loss of coverage
due to the reduction of hours but the Subsidy period begins at the 2nd Qualifying
Event therefore the Subsidy period may be less than 15 months.