Durbin, Scott Continue To Press For Robust Federal COBRA Subsidies In The Next COVID-19 Legislation

Of The 30 Million Americans Who Have Recently Lost Their Jobs Due To COVID-19, It Is Estimated That More Than Ten Million Of These Individuals Have Also Lost Their Employer-Sponsored Health Care

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA-03) joined a conference call with leaders from Third Way, Mathematica, Families USA, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, and Brookings, to discuss why Congress should provide federal subsidies for COBRA health care coverage as part of the next coronavirus relief package.  Since the middle of March, more than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits.  Experts estimate that 10 to 15 million of these newly unemployed individuals have also lost their employer-sponsored health insurance. Durbin and Scott have been fighting to help ensure that people who lose their jobs can remain on their employers’ health plans through COBRA without additional cost. 

“It is imperative that Congress do everything within its power to help mitigate the impact of this pandemic, including ensuring continued access to health insurance. That is why I’m fighting—alongside Chairman Bobby Scott in the House—to ensure that the next coronavirus relief package includes federal funding to help laid off and furloughed workers keep their employer health plans,” Durbin said.

“We are in the middle of a health pandemic. The last thing people need is to worry about their health coverage,” said Scott. “As millions of people file for unemployment, the Worker Health Coverage Protection Act would make sure that workers and their families won’t lose access to health care if they lose their job.”

Last month, Durbin led 17 Senators in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urging that the next COVID-19 legislation include federal COBRA funding.  And Chairman Scott introduced the Worker Health Coverage Protection Act, which would provide federal assistance to cover the full cost of COBRA premiums for workers or the full cost of health insurance premiums owed by workers who are furloughed.

In the U.S., over half of Americans receive their health coverage through their employer.  Depending on the extent of unemployment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, between 23 to 35 million workers could end up losing their employer-based health care coverage.