Resolution to Facilitate Health Insurance Enrollment for COVID-19 Layoffs

Directing the Secretary of Health to coordinate with the state Health Exchange and the state Department of Labor to make it easier for residents who are laid off to quickly obtain health insurance.

WHEREAS, massive layoffs triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic threaten thousands of residents with the loss of health insurance formerly provided by their employers; and

WHEREAS, it is often difficult to reach people who are laid off to help them find insurance, and usually only when state agencies or private organizations provide intensive, one-on-one assistance to newly unemployed families, explaining their health care options, completing paperwork for them, and trouble-shooting problems – a method which is nearly impossible to accomplish during the current pandemic; and

WHEREAS, during this public health crisis, it is especially important that the maximum possible number of residents retain health coverage to facilitating rapid detection and treatment of COVID-19. Further, health insurance helps patients receive care in appropriate primary care settings, without burdening already overcrowded emergency rooms; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the [House of Representatives, the Senate concurring,] that the Secretary of Health shall coordinate with the state Health Exchange and the state Department of Labor to ensure that anyone who loses employer-sponsored insurance can quickly enroll in quality, affordable health insurance through the following three-step effort:

First, the Department of Labor should, as quickly as possible, incorporate a health insurance checkbox into applications for Unemployment Insurance. The question should be mandatory for the applicant to answer and ask whether the applicant wants their contact information and social security number shared with the [state Exchange] to help them obtain free or low-cost health insurance.

Second, to cover the cost of additional health care navigators, hotline staff, and technological investments needed to reach laid-off workers, the state should use some of its resources provided under the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund created by the CARES Act.

Third, the Department of Health should launch a robust communications campaign that starts now, and continues until the economy recovers, that tells the public that, if they or a family member or friend loses their job or their income drops, they should immediately visit the Health Exchange website to see if they qualify for free or low-cost health insurance.