08 Jun New Details on Insurance, Unemployment, Internet Access, & Paid Medical Leave
Through our blog, Triage Cancer remains committed to bringing you the news that might impact the cancer community. Here is the latest information about new laws and programs at both the federal and state levels that may be relevant to you.
- Some states are choosing to end the extra federal unemployment insurance (UI) benefits early: Through the American Rescue Plan Act, the federal government provided an extra $300 weekly on top of state payments, and extended the maximum number of weeks that workers can collect UI to 79. These extra programs end September 6, 2021, but 24 states have announced that they will opt out as early as June 12th. Regular state UI benefits will remain available, but many workers have used up their state’s UIB eligibility (usually 26 weeks or less). To see what is happening in your state, visit the COVID-19 & Cancer module of CancerFinances.org.
- New internet benefit for low-income households: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will provide a $50 per month discount to cover internet bills for eligible households. A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer is also available. Learn more or apply here.
- Free COBRA subsidy update: Have you lost your job or had your hours cut back? The federal government will pay for your COBRA from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. Note that the subsidy is not available if you left your job voluntarily. Rollout of this new program has taken some time and many employers haven’t yet told people who qualify. As a result, some people have paid for their COBRA premiums in April, May, and now June. If you are in this position, you may be entitled to credit or a refund.
- Learn more about this free COBRA subsidy in this past Triage Cancer’s blog post.
- If you think you qualify, use this document to tell your employer that you are eligible. Continue paying your COBRA premium until the issue is resolved in order to keep your health insurance coverage. Contact the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) with questions at AskEBSA.gov or 800-444-3272
- Important information for SSI recipients:
- SSI recipients should have received their third economic impact payment (EIP). If you did not receive it, check here for information.
- The Social Security Administration does not count EIPs as income for SSI recipients. However, EIP payments can be counted as a resource if you still have the money after 12 months.
- SSI recipients who got the first EIP in May 2020, are nearing the end of that 12-month exclusion period. Any funds that you still have from the May 2020 EIP will count toward the resource limit ($2,000 for an individual, $3,000 for a couple). Individuals are not limited in how they can spend these funds.
- Health Insurance Marketplace update: #ICYMI, the Health Insurance Marketplace has a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) that will last until August 15, 2021, in the 36 states that use HealthCare.gov.
- 15 million Americans who lack health insurance may be eligible to receive significant financial help to buy coverage on the Marketplace. For many people plans are available for under $10 per month.
- More than two million enrollees have seen their premiums reduced by an average of 40%.
- The Marketplace is open through August 15, 2021
- States that operate their own Marketplaces may have different ending dates. If you live in CA, CT, CO, DC, ID, MD, MA, MN, NV, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT, WA, click here to find your state’s Marketplace details.
Delaware seeks to create statewide paid family and medical leave. The Health Delaware Families Act was introduced in the Senate and if passed, would provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave for a worker’s own serious health condition or to act as a caregiver. The bill is currently before a senate committee. Learn more about ways to take time off and pay for it with Triage Cancer’s animated video.
Missouri’s governor announces that the state will not expand access to Medicaid this year. Voters in Missouri approved a ballot measure that required the state to expand access to Medicaid for residents beginning July 1, 2021. The ballot measure added this requirement to the state constitution. However, the state legislature refused to fund the program. Advocates in Missouri filed a lawsuit on May 20, 2021, asking the court to require the state to expand Medicaid access as required by the constitution. Click here for information about Medicaid Expansion in your state.
Wyoming revives an opportunity to expand access to Medicaid. The Wyoming Senate killed a bill in March to expand Medicaid. But a legislative committee has voted to sponsor the bill when it comes up again, in July 2021 or February 2022. An estimated 24,000 Wyoming residents without access to affordable health insurance would have been able to enroll in Medicaid. Wyoming is one of 12 states that have not yet provided this expanded access to Medicaid.
Virginia expands access to Medicaid for legal permanent residents. An amendment to the state budget eliminated a rule that required permanent residents to present a 10-year work history to qualify for Medicaid, which will benefit immigrants who immigrated at a later age and could not build a 10-year history of work.
New Mexico legalized recreational marijuana. The new law legalizes the use and sale of marijuana for those age 21 and over and expunges the records of people with low-level cannabis convictions. New Mexico joins DC and 16 other states in legalizing recreational marijuana. For information about your state’s laws, visit TriageCancer.org/StateLaws.
Alabama legalized medical marijuana. The new law permits the use of medical cannabis to treat certain medical conditions. The law went into effect immediate upon signing by the governor on May 17, 2021. However, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. Learn more with Triage Cancer’s Quick Guide to Medical Marijuana.
Nebraska’s new law regulates step therapy. Health plans increasingly require patients to try less expensive prescription drugs before covering the drugs chosen by the health care provider. This practice, known as step therapy, can save money but sometimes results in patients not receiving the most appropriate treatment. The new law takes effect January 1, 2022, and provides a clear way for patients to ask for and receive exceptions.
Illinois passes a law that ensures individuals who buy a Marketplace plan have a plan option with a set co-pay for prescription drugs. A co-payment is a preset, fixed dollar amount that an individual pays for a certain type of health care—in this case, for each filled prescription. Many health insurance policies also have a co-insurance portion that individuals must pay for more expensive prescriptions, which is a percentage of the total cost and can reach thousands in out-of-pocket expenses. If signed by the governor, the law goes into effect January 1, 2023, and health insurance companies will have to begin offering some plans with set co-pays for prescription drugs.
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