Friday, June 4, 2010

COBRA Subsidy Extension in Critical Condition

In March 2009, due to the high rate of unemployment, the federal government began to pay 65% of the COBRA premium for people who were involuntarily unemployed. This avoided a huge increase in the ranks of the uninsured. However, the COBRA subsidy expired on June 1; Congress left for a 10 day Memorial Day recess without extending it. Huffington Post reports the story here.

However, Congress can extend the COBRA subsidy (and unemployment) when they get back next week, retroactive to June 1, if they choose to do so. But they won't do it unless they hear from US that it's a high priority.

So call or write your members of Congress NOW. Today. This minute. Please. Contact information for the Senate is here; contact information for the House of Representatives is here.

If you want to email, here's a sort of template that you can use, but if you have a personal experience, or a friend or family member with a personal experience, telling real stories is always the best thing to do.

Dear __________:

As you know, the COBRA subsidy that was initiated by Congress in March 2009 to prevent the involuntarily unemployed from becoming the involuntarily uninsured, as well, expired on June 1, during Congress's Memorial Day recess. If the COBRA subsidy is not extended at least through the end of the year, many thousands of people will become uninsured. Not only will this create hardship for them, but it will increase the financial burden of paying for charity care that inevitably falls on the shoulders of the taxpayers. Our money would be better spent by ensuring that the involuntarily unemployed are allowed to continue to receive the COBRA subsidy until the job figures begin to show a rebound in hiring. Thank you for your consideration.

Feel free to use that or some version thereof -- but really, if you're directly affected, or if you know someone who is affected by the lapse of the COBRA subsidy, tell your story instead. That will make the most difference. Thanks. Jennifer

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