Merry Christmas, unemployed: COBRA help extended through February

Early Saturday morning the Senate gave unemployed persons a Christmas gift. Through a trick in legislation, unemployment benefits were extended for the long-term unemployed who were slated to lose those benefits December 31. The Senate bill also provides up to 15 months of help with health insurance benefits through COBRA subsidies. Without the legislation benefits would have ended for any unemployed who already received nine months of help with their health insurance benefits on December 31.

The House of Representatives approved a six-month extension for a total of 15 months of COBRA benefits last week, so now the legislation is ready to go to the President's desk for signature.

In order to get the legislation through the Senate, Democrats had to use a trick. They attached the extension to the must-pass 2010 defense appropriations bill.