What we commonly refer to as COBRA, short-term health insurance for the unemployed, was included in the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. It grants workers and their families the option to keep their group insurance health benefits for up to 18 months (although the exact time may vary depending on a number of factors). COBRA enables a worker to purchase health insurance through their ex-employer, if they are subject to a “qualifying event”, even though they no longer work there. A qualifying event includes the end of employment for any reason other than “gross misconduct”, or a reduction in work hours (again for anything other than gross misconduct). Only employers with 20 or more workers are subject to COBRA.
Cry Wolf Quotes
There certainly is a segment of the employer population that has a philosophical opposition to Government’s role here. There are others who are concerned about return-to-work disincentives, or the incongruous nature of cutting Medicare and Medicaid while adding new programs. And there are others who would like to have problem world be [sic] resolved through a voluntary, charity-based approach. We believe that whatever is required of employers should not create disincentive for the growing number of voluntary and negotiated plans, and it certainly should not impose such a burden that the provisions of basic medical insurance will be reduced, be that for small employers, or that the unemployment figures themselves will be increased for larger employers.
Let us go on the record as saying we believe that this program should be temporary. Clearly, we share with the chairman [Senator Bob Dole] the belief that the general economy is not by tomorrow going to turn upside down, and during the time in which it takes to do that, this program should be in place. But it should indeed be temporary. It should have a limited scope. Indeed, we are not in a position in this country today to institute another Cadillac-care program when it is not necessary…Certainly we do not wish to see this become another entitlement program…”
All too often such well-intended Federal programs simply fuel the flames of spiraling health care cost inflation, diffuse the concentration of limited Federal dollars on the truly medically needy who must rely on Government entitlements for any medical care, and exacerbate the rising uncontrollable element in the Federal deficit which we must get under control if we are going to put people back to work—which is the real objective that would meet the problem addressed by this committee.
Health care and unemployment are basically State-level concerns, with corresponding programs to meet these needs. The issue of health insurance for the unemployed should also be resolved at that level, without Federal intervention. Currently, 29 States have enacted some legislation dealing with health insurance and unemployment. We advocate that the States continue to resolve this and other health insurance matters.