Congress Expands Health Insurance to the Unemployed and Aid to College Students

February 2, 2009

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R.1), Congress approved measures to expand health-care coverage to unemployed workers and increase Pell Grant aid to college students.

It is estimated that the increase in health-care coverage to workers who lose their jobs during the recession will help 8.2 million people in the U.S. Under the current law, unemployed workers can keep their previous employer’s health insurance for up to 18 months, but they are responsible for 102 percent of the cost.

With the new plan, workers who were involuntarily terminated between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009 will be provided a 65 percent subsidy for COBRA premiums for up to one year. The new plan would also make funding available to states that elect to provide Medicaid coverage to unemployed and uninsured people and their families. In addition, the plan would extend the qualification for COBRA benefits for older and long-term workers until they obtain new employment or Medicare.

Moreover, Congress approved an increase in the Pell Grant by $500, increasing the total amount to $5,350 by next school year. They also approved establishing a new college-tuition tax credit of $2,500 and funding new work-study oppurtunities for college students.


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