'Jobless Workers' Getting More Taxpayer Money to Pay Their Health Insurance Premiums

By Susan Jones | December 27, 2012 | 5:47am EST

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) - The U.S. Labor Department has rustled up more taxpayer money to help "jobless workers" pay their health insurance premiums.

"It is difficult enough to find new employment, let alone do so without health insurance for you or your family," Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said in a news release dated Dec. 26. "This funding will help eligible workers avoid that prospect by helping them pay for health insurance while they seek new jobs."

The money -- in the form of a $1,058,254 National Emergency Grant supplement -- will go to several thousand unemployed people in Alabama, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Mississippi, South Carolina and Virginia.

National Emergency Grants are part of the Labor Secretary's discretionary fund. These grants provide assistance "in response to large, unexpected economic events which cause significant job losses." Usually the grants are used to re-train laid-off workers.

The grant supplement announced on Wednesday will provide two to three months of premium payments for unemployed people in the states mentioned above who are receiving Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits and are eligible for the Health Coverage Tax Credit program.

(Trade Adjustment Assistance helps workers who have lost their jobs as a result of increased imports or shifts in production out of the United States.)

Under the Health Coverage Tax Credit program, eligible individuals can receive 72.5 percent of premium costs for qualified health insurance programs. The payments cover the period of time it takes to complete Internal Revenue Service enrollment, processing and the first payment under the HCTC program.

A National Emergency Grant in the amount of $2,422,473 was awarded to the state of Maryland on Nov. 30, 2009, to serve about 1,890 people  in Alabama, Maryland, Mississippi and South Carolina who were eligible to enroll in the HCTC program.

Wednesday’s supplemental award of $1,058,254 brings the total funding awarded for this project to $3,480,727, and it will bring the total number of people to be served under this grant to about 2,340.

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