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Extending the COBRA subsidy

As most people know, COBRA is a program that allows the unemployed to continue health insurance coverage. COBRA is a way for people to remain on a group insurance policy between jobs.

Without COBRA, families lose their health insurance and then have to shop for policies on the individual market. The individual market is not heavily regulated (until 2014) so companies can deny coverage for preexisting conditions.

In 2009 the stimulus package included subsidies for COBRA, because these policies tend to be extraordinarily expensive. The subsidy covered 65 percent of the COBRA premium. This lowered the average monthly cost for a family plan from $1,111 per month to $389 per month.

The COBRA subsidies are now ending for unemployed workers and Congress has not extended the program. That is a tragedy for North Carolina. We are still experiencing double-digit unemployment. Vague and unfounded worries about federal spending is not a good reason to deny health insurance to struggling families.

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