With Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning's one-man filibuster preventing an extension to unemployment and COBRA benefits for Americans hit hardest by this economic downturn, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand issued the following statement urging Senator Bunning to put Americans before politics and end his partisan filibuster.
Without an extension, unemployment, COBRA, and other benefits will end this Sunday, February 28.
"Amidst the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, families that were hit hardest by this horrible economy simply cannot afford Senator Bunning's partisan move.
"If we're going to rebuild our economy and get our families back on track, we need to make sure we're giving them every opportunity to survive and support their families in this difficult time. Senator Bunning's filibuster only sets us back even farther.
"I urge Senator Bunning to put the needs of our families before all else, and end his partisan filibuster so we can get families the resources they need to put food on the table, continue on the path to recovery, and move our economy in the right direction."
Senator Bunning's one-man filibuster is blocking the U.S. Senate from extending the following federal resources to help get New York families that are experiencing the absolute worst of this economy get back on track.
* Extension of Unemployment Programs - Extends Federal Unemployment Programs, including the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program, through April 5, 2010. Approximately 600,000 New Yorkers are receiving unemployment benefits, the majority of which would lose their benefits by the end of the year if they are not extended.
* Extension of COBRA Assistance - Extends eligibility for 65 percent subsidy for COBRA premiums through end of March 2010 and includes technical improvements to further help New Yorkers in need.
* Extension of Medicare Physician Update - Extends current Medicare payment rates for physicians through end of March 2010. Without an extension, payments to doctors who care for Medicare patients or patients on the military's TRICARE health program would see their payments cut by more than 20 percent.
* Extension of Medicare Therapy Caps Exceptions - Extends exceptions process for beneficiary payment limits on outpatient therapy services through end of March 2010. If this provision is allowed to expire, families will face a $1,860 cap per year. For families with children with learning disabilities, speech impairments, or anyone with physical rehabilitation needs, that cap can be reached after only one month of treatment.
* Extension of Poverty Guidelines - Extends current provision maintaining 2009 poverty guidelines through end of March 2010. Failing to extend these guidelines would mean that thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers could lose access to programs, such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and child nutrition.
* Extension of Surface Transportation Programs - Extends Surface Transportation Programs and related authority to make expenditures from the highway trust fund through March 28, 2010. Without the extension, more New Yorkers will face loss of employment in the construction trades, where unemployment is already above 20 percent.
* Extension of Small Business Loan Grantee Program - Extends loan guarantees through March 28, 2010 and appropriates an additional $60 million for the program. These programs have been a critical lifeline for thousands of New York small businesses struggling to get credit in a down economy.