Legislation was introduced on Thursday in the House and Senate that would ensure in many instances COBRA benefits are available to LGBT Americans if their partner leaves or loses their job.
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) introduced the legislation, known as the Equal Access to COBRA Act, in the House, while Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) introduced the legislation in the Senate.
In a statement, Boxer highlighted the necessity of passing the legislation to help ensure LGBT people have health care coverage.
“All of our families deserve equal access to health insurance,” Boxer said. “This bill would help ensure that domestic partners and their families will be able to keep their health coverage if their partner loses their job.”
The measure would apply to companies that already offer health coverage to employees with same-sex partners to ensure they have access to Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act benefits if they lose their job.
Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, praised the introduction of the legislation.
“In these troubled economic times, social safety-net benefits like COBRA continuation coverage are even more important to American families,” Solmonese said. “LGBT people should have the equal ability to maintain those critical benefits for their families during difficult times.”
According to Boxer’s office, more than half of Fortune 500 companies cover domestic partners under their health plans.
Boxer had previously introduced the legislation last year, but Weiner’s introduction of the bill marks the first time the bill has been introduced in the House.