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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

Rep. Davis Pushes 'Compromise Bill' On Health Insurance After Job Loss

Davis and LaHood tour testing site
U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis, left, and Darin LaHood during a recent visit to the Bloomington drive-thru COVID-19 testing site.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis said he wants Congress to do more to help people who have lost their job afford health insurance through COBRA—just not as part of a larger coronavirus relief package supported by Democrats.

Davis, a Taylorville Republican, has sponsored a new bill that would provide six months of premium assistance toward COBRA that allows individuals to keep their insurance after a job loss, usually at a higher out-of-pocket cost. Effectively, the bill would ensure a person does not pay more for COBRA benefits than he or she paid for coverage while employed.

Additionally, the bill creates a 30-day special enrollment period on Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges for individuals who are eligible for coverage, but who are not enrolled.

Similar proposals—COBRA subsidies and a special enrollment period for the ACA exchanges—were included in the Democrats’ $3 trillion coronavirus relief package, called the HEROES Act. It passed along party lines in the House on May 15. Davis voted against it.

“I think we can address this problem without putting together a liberal wish list that costs $3 trillion,” said Davis. “Of course, a $3 trillion bill is bound to have some good proposals in it,like this. But it was woefully short in many other areas. There were things in there that were completely unrelated to the emergency at hand.”

He said the HEROES Act was developed with zero Republican input—unlike the earlier coronavirus relief measures that he said were bipartisan. Bipartisan talks on the HEROES Act have stalled with the GOP-led Senate and the Trump administration.

Amid historic unemployment, Davis’ standalone COBRA and ACA bill has attracted a mix of Democratic and Republican cosponsors, as well as support from the Healthcare Leadership Council, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, and the Alliance to Fight for Health Care.

“Our bill is a reasonable, bipartisan approach to helping people afford health care during this crisis and it's frankly something Congress could use a little bit more of right now,” said Davis, whose 13th Congressional District includes parts of Bloomington-Normal, Springfield, Decatur, and Champaign-Urbana.

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