Thursday, June 4, 2009
Employees at small businesses in the state may soon have the ability to keep their health insurance if they loose their job. Both the PA House and Senate have approved legislation that would extend federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) to employees that used to work at companies with 2-19 employees. (COBRA) provides former employees, retirees, spouses, former spouses, and dependent children the right to continuation of health coverage at group rates for up to 18 months. The so-called "Mini-COBRA" health insurance plan still needs to be signed by the governor. A spokesperson for Gov. Ed Rendell says he supports the bill. PA Senator Don White says, "It is an important step in the right direction to maintain affordable accessibility to essential health care. Most significantly, it does not cost the Pennsylvania taxpayers one dime. This measure is already in place in many other states and it is time we make it part of Pennsylvania's health care network. " "House Bill 1089 could provide an important safety net to thousands of individuals who work for small businesses and find themselves to be between jobs," says White. The federal stimulus act provides a 65% federal subsidy for COBRA premiums. The subsidy is good for up to nine months for those covered by COBRA as well as those in a state continuation program such as the Mini-COBRA program established by this legislation.