April 17, 2020
House Democrats introduced legislation that would create a payroll tax credit to help cover the cost of premiums for laid-off and furloughed employees who remain on their employer's health plan.
For laid-off employees that lose their employer provided coverage, the Worker Health Coverage Protection Act, sponsored by House Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), would cover 100% of the cost of COBRA coverage for 15 months.
For furloughed or reduced hour employees, the bill would cover the cost of the employee portion of the premium for up to 15 months.
The coverage would apply to employees impacted by the COVID-19 crisis beginning March 1, 2020, and ending six months following the public health emergency.
Subsidies would be available until an individual enrolls in another group health plan or in the ACA exchange plan, becomes eligible for Medicare, or the individual's COBRA period or furlough ends.
Employers would be reimbursed by a reduction of or credit toward payroll taxes and income tax withholdings they pay to the IRS.
Outlook: Democrats intend to press for the bill to be included in the phase IV legislation that Congress is expected to take up in May.