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House Democrats are set to unveil a new bill aimed to support Americans that have lost their employer-provided insurance after they have been laid off. The program (The Worker Health Coverage Protection Act), which works through private health insurer COBRA, would provide 100% coverage for the 49% of Americans that receive healthcare through their employers.
Since the 1980s, COBRA has allowed laid-off Americans the opportunity to continue to buy into their employer-based insurance plan, reaching a high point of 65% coverage on insurance premiums during 2009. Under this new bill, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars will be funneled by the Democrats into new subsidies for COBRA.
Analysts predict that private insurers are the real victors here, raising commercial rates and receiving massive subsidies from the government. While the bill would benefit half of insured Americans that receive insurance through employers, it completely overlooks the other half of the country who are not; in particular, those covered under the Affordable Care Act. What is worse is that the money funneled into COBRA comes from all of our pockets, not just the employer-insured. In addition, COBRA does not provide aid to small independent businesses with fewer than 20 employees.
Progressive figures such as Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders have all adamantly advocated for monthly stimulus payments of up to $2,000 per adult and $1,000 per child to ease the daunting insurance payments Americans will face over the next few months.
President Trump has alluded to the idea that he supports further stimulus payments. This dialogue comes on the heels of evidence that, for some, intensive COVID-19 treatment has stretched into $10,000 direct payments; the death of an infected family member can see the bills kicked-back onto their spouse or extended family. Hospitals are underfunded, and very few of us here in Pennsylvania have yet to even see a testing facility.
The $1,200 stimulus check may be enough for a middle-income family to pay their mortgage, but they must still pay health insurance, utilities, child care, food, supplies, car payments etc. Chances are we may not see another stimulus check.
The Democrats’ plan to subsidize private insurers may have the outward intention of providing those laid off with the plans they received, and indeed, it will continue to aid those millions of citizens. Yet, the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be thrown into this proposition will only truly benefit the one half of the country that has employer-based healthcare. Above all, it will benefit the multi-million dollar private insurance companies that establishment Democrats rely on.
CJ Fudala is a fourth year English major, firstname.lastname@example.org