Senators Introduce COBRA Relief Bill
On Feb. 7, 2021, a group of Democratic senators introduced the Worker Health Coverage Protection Act, which would protect unemployed or furloughed workers from losing their health insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would allow laid off workers to remain on their employer health plans, through the COBRA program, at no cost.
The legislation would also provide a 100 percent subsidy of COBRA health insurance premiums owed by unemployed workers to ensure that they do not lose coverage due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Furloughed workers whose health benefits continue while pay is suspended would also have their employee contributions 100 percent subsidized. These subsidies would not impact workers' eligibility for unemployment benefits or other types of state or federal assistance.
In addition, the bill would extend the period during which workers could elect COBRA coverage, and enable workers to access coverage even if they declined it before the subsidy was made available, thereby ensuring continuity of care amid the health and economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.