Durbin Statement on 100% COBRA Subsidy Included in Senate Version of the American Rescue Plan

Durbin has been a leader in the effort to protect unemployed workers’ health insurance during the pandemic

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today released the following statement after it was reported that the Senate version of the American Rescue Plan will include a 100 percent subsidy of COBRA health insurance premiums to ensure that laid-off workers can remain on their employer health plans at no cost through the end of September.  This provision will provide crucial assistance for millions of families nationwide who are in financial crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Durbin, along with Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), are lead authors of the Worker Health Coverage Protection Act, a bill that would protect millions of unemployed or furloughed workers from losing their health insurance by enabling them to access subsidized COBRA coverage and keep their insurance.

“It is bad enough that millions of Americans have lost their jobs as a result of this pandemic, they shouldn’t also have to lose their employer sponsored health plans.  Unfortunately, that’s exactly what has happened for far too many families nationwide.

“That is why I worked alongside my colleagues in Congress and the new Administration to improve upon a COBRA health insurance provision included in the House-passed American Rescue Plan.  This strengthened provision will ensure that laid-off workers can remain on their employer plans through the worst of this pandemic, at no cost.  This bill will go a long way toward helping our families and economy deal with—and recover from—COVID-19, but I am particularly pleased that it includes strong provisions to help struggling families keep their health plans.  We have a lot of work left to do, time to get to it.”

Last year, Durbin led 17 Senators in a letter to then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and then-Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to ensure that any forthcoming COVID-19 legislation include robust federal subsidies so that individuals who lose their job as a result of this pandemic can maintain their employer-sponsored health coverage.

Since March of 2020, millions of Americans have filed for unemployment benefits, with an estimated 10 to 15 million having also lost their employer-sponsored health insurance.  In Illinois, more than 800,000 Illinoisans are claiming unemployment benefits—resulting in many also without health insurance during the pandemic.  Many unemployed Americans would prefer to remain on their employer health plan, known as COBRA, but it is often prohibitively expensive—on average, $1,700 per month for a family.