The Senate Commerce Committee unanimously approved legislation that would offer extended health benefits to residents left jobless as a result of their place of employment closing. The bill would allow employees who are laid off due to a workplace closure to continue receiving employer-sponsored health benefits for up to 18 months, under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, commonly called COBRA. Those individuals – required to purchase the coverage – could then take advantage of reduced insurance premiums, made possible through subsidies provided under the federal economic stimulus act and extended by Congress. The federal subsidy expires May 31, 2010, but has been extended multiple times and is expected to be extended again. The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.