Along with layoffs comes eventual loss of health care coverage. The 2009 economic stimulus bill attempts to help unemployed workers keep their health care coverage while reducing the cost of health care, and creating jobs at the same time. Tall order, isn’t it? Here are some highlights:
Health Insurance for Unemployed Workers
Under the COBRA program, workers who are laid off can buy into the health insurance plans of their former employer, but the coverage is typically more than an unemployed person can afford. The 2009 economic stimulus bill provides funds allowing the government to cover 65% of COBRA premiums for up to 9 months for workers affected by the recession. Workers receiving the subsidy must attest that their income will not exceed $125,000 for individuals and $250,000 for families.
Protecting Medicaid Coverage
The bill sets aside about $87 billion over the next two years in additional federal matching funds to help states maintain their Medicaid programs in the face of massive state budget shortfalls.
Health Care Modernization and Job Creation
The bill provides $19 billion to speed up implementation of computerized Health Information Technology (HIT) system used by doctors and hospitals to rapidly, but securely, share health information on patients nationwide. The government estimates that health care modernization projects will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, mainly in the high-tech sectors.