March 26, 2010 at 2:41 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Boxer introduces COBRA bill for domestic partners

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) introduced legislation on Thursday that would allow same-sex domestic partners to have the same access to COBRA benefits as married couples in some circumstances.

The bill, known as the Equal Access to COBRA Act, would allow LGBT people to continue to receive coverage for their same-sex partners under COBRA if they lose their job and their former employer offered health benefits to domestic partners.

In a statement, Boxer called the issue the legislation would address “a question of fairness.”

“Every family deserves access to health insurance, especially in this tough economy,” she said. “This bill ensures that domestic partners and their families will have equal access to health coverage after a job loss.”

According to Boxer’s statement, more than half of Fortune 500 companies cover domestic partners under their health plans.

Under COBRA, or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, employers must continue to offer health care coverage to departing workers and their beneficiaries for up to 36 months.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement the introduction of Boxer’s legislation is important because same-sex couples “are equally affected by economic hardships and should have equal access to important benefits like COBRA continuation coverage.”

“In these troubled economic times, when many Americans are concerned about the security of their jobs and health insurance, LGBT people should not also have to worry whether the COBRA safety net will be there to help protect the health of their families,” he said.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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