Health insurance application Boththe recent HEROES Act, as well as the proposed Health CareProtection Act, include funding for expanded COBRA coverage.(Photo: Shutterstock)

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Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans who weredependent on their employer for health insurance coverage suddenlyfind themselves in a tough spot, and millions more face anuncertain future as businesses adjust to a new pandemic-centricrisk model. For these consumers, paying for health care coverage isjust one of many stressors right now.

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As such, the Alliance to Fight for Health Care, a group ofstakeholders working to protect employer-provided health coverage,is urging Congress to expand COBRA coverage for these affectedworkers. Under COBRA, an employee has the opportunity to remain ontheir employer plan after being laid off or seeing a reduction inhours. Both the recent HEROES Act, as well as the proposed HealthCare Protection Act, include funding for COBRA coverage.

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Related: 4 ways to get ahead of the COBRA subsidycurve

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"We must work quickly and together to make sure individuals wholose their job and potentially their employer-sponsored healthinsurance due to the economic impact of COVID-19 have continuedaccess to affordable health care coverage during this crisis—eitherthrough their employer or through federal subsidies to help pay forcontinued health care coverage premiums, including for church plancontinuation coverage," said Rev. Jeff Thiemann, vice chair of theChurch Alliance, which has also come out in support of expandedCOBRA coverage.

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According to a poll conducted on behalf of AFHC, 78% ofAmericans would support funding to expand COBRA coverage. Moreover,the support is unwavering across political beliefs, age and income,with 85% of Democrats and 75% of Republicans supporting such ameasure. Among Millennials and Boomers, support is 80% and 78%,respectively.

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"This poll confirms Americans want Congress to help people keeptheir health coverage," said James A. Klein, president of AmericanBenefits Council. "Subsidizing COBRA continuation coverage is themost efficient and effective way to deliver vital protection toAmerica's families during this period of unprecedented jobloss."

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In its press release, AFHC noted four benefits of aCongressional subsidy for COBRA, including:

  • Financial stability and peace of mind during the currentcrisis
  • Easing the demand that would be placed on public programs bythe newly uninsured
  • Easing the transition for unemployed workers seeking newjobs
  • Preventing the worsening of serious health conditions due todelayed care

AFHC's mission is to promote policies that not only ease thefinancial burden of health care coverage for laid-off or furloughedworkers but to enhance the availability of affordable coveragethrough individual insurance markets and to promote the well-beingof frontline health care workers.

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Emily Payne

Emily Payne is director, content analytics for ALM's Business & Finance Markets and former managing editor for BenefitsPRO. A Wisconsin native, she has spent the past decade writing and editing for various athletic and fitness publications. She holds an English degree and Business certificate from the University of Wisconsin.