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Along with the plans to build up clean-energy industries and boost security at U.S. ports, President Barack Obama is also promoting a plan to expand health insurance coverage in his stimulus package. His stimulus package is a part of the broader effort to pull the economy out of the recession it has been in the past year. Barack Obama speaks about health care coverage for small business owners at a 2004 press conference.

The report released on Saturday outlined the priorities for the two-year stimulus package which included health insurance coverage to the 8.5 million people who lost their jobs this past year. The $825 billion package of spending and tax cuts is a two-year plan that house Democrats have already begun working on.

Senate Version of Stimulus Package

The senate version of the stimulus package includes $149 billion in funds for health care. The package includes a provision that would extend Medicaid to families who have become ineligible because their incomes have increased at a cost of $1.3 billion over the next 10 years. The package also includes federal subsidies for 65% of the health insurance premiums under COBRA for 9months.

Another inclusion in the package is approximately $23 billion for health care information technology, whereas the House version is about $3 billion less at $20 billion.

House Version of Stimulus Package

The house version would allow states to expand their Medicaid programs to low-income, recently unemployed workers at a cost of approximately $9 billion through 2010. The house version of the package includes federal subsidies for 65% of the health insurance premiums under COBRA for one year. The house would also include in their version of the package, a provision that would allow recently unemployed workers ages 55 and older or those with at least 10 years of tenure at their jobs to continue to receive COBRA. They will receive COBRA until they find a job or reach 65 and are eligible for Medicare. The senate version does not include this provision.

“If we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse,” Obama said on Saturday.

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