The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, or COBRA, is a law passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Reagan that, among other things, mandates an insurance program giving some employees the ability to continue health insurance coverage after leaving employment. COBRA includes amendments to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The law deals with a great variety of subjects, such as tobacco price supports, railroads, private pension plans, disability insurance, and the postal service, but it is perhaps best known for Title X, which amends the Internal Revenue Code to deny income tax deductions to employers for contributions to a group health plan unless such plan meets certain continuing coverage requirements. The violation for failing to meet those criteria was subsequently changed to an excise tax.
Although this statute became law on April 7, 1986, its official name is the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (Pub.L. 99-272, 100 Stat. 82). Because of the discrepancy between the official name of the Act and the year in which it was enacted, some government publications refer to the Act as the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986. The Act is often referred to simply as "COBRA".