From business wire:
Web Site and Toll-free Line Will Help Unemployed Workers Appeal Denials of COBRA Premium Assistance Under Recovery Act
WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced a new Web site ContinuationCoverage.net and helpline (1-866-400-6689) where certain unemployed workers may request expedited review of a denial by their former employers of eligibility for COBRA premium assistance under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
CMS has contracted with MAXIMUS Federal Services, Inc., a subsidiary of MAXIMUS, Inc., to review requests for expedited review of denials and make recommendations — subject to CMS’s review — on whether individuals are eligible for health insurance premium assistance under the Recovery Act’s expansion of COBRA continuation coverage. MAXIMUS will also answer questions about the premium assistance program and the expedited review process. Contact information for the Web site and helpline is provided below.
To help displaced workers maintain health care coverage for themselves and their families, the Recovery Act provides a 65 percent subsidy for health insurance premiums for workers who have elected COBRA after they have been involuntarily terminated from their jobs. “COBRA coverage” generally refers to the continuation of coverage provisions of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), which apply to employers with twenty or more employees. The ARRA-established subsidy is also available to eligible Federal, state, and local government employees, and, if state law requires certain continuation coverage, to workers for private sector employers with fewer than twenty employees.
The Recovery Act’s premium assistance applies to periods of continuation coverage beginning on or after February 17, 2009 (when ARRA became law), and lasts for up to nine months.
To qualify for premium assistance, a worker must be involuntarily terminated between September 1, 2008, and December 31, 2009, and elect continuation coverage. The subsidy ends when the worker is offered any new employer-sponsored health care coverage or becomes eligible for Medicare. Workers who were involuntarily terminated between September 1, 2008, and February 16, 2009, but who failed to elect COBRA coverage at that time, most likely because it was unaffordable, or who elected COBRA after September 1, 2008, but let it drop because it was unaffordable, would be given an additional 60 days after employer notifications are released to elect COBRA and receive the subsidy.