COBRA Subsidy Bill Needs Our Support

Volume CII, No. 6June, 2002

Members of Local 802 have a major stake in passage of the COBRA Subsidy Bill. The legislation — S-6308 in the NYS Senate and A-7660-B in the Assembly — is sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon and Assemblymember Richard Brodsky. It would make it easier for entertainment industry workers and their dependents to maintain health insurance coverage by providing subsidies for COBRA.

Enactment of the bill would be a very efficient use of health dollars because payments would be used solely for benefits. It makes economic sense because it would maintain participation in the private health insurance sector and reduce the numbers of the uninsured. And it would provide a boost to an industry essential to the state’s economic health – entertainment – by helping workers in the industry maintain their health insurance during periods when they are ineligible for union plans.

This is a major problem for musicians because employment is episodic, and workers often experience brief or extended periods of unemployment. The bill creates a subsidy that would pay 50 percent of the cost of COBRA for up to one year for eligible workers. Currently, seven out of ten entertainment industry members who are offered the opportunity to extend their insurance coverage by paying for it themselves cannot afford to. The cost can be as high as $350 per month for an individual and more than $900 per month for a family.

This bill is currently in the Senate Finance Committee. Local 802 urges you to contact your Senator and urge him or her to support this legislation. If he or she is not on the Finance Committee, contact Committee Chair Ronald Stafford. The Assembly bill is currently in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. If your Assembly representative is not on the Ways and Means Committee, please contact Committee Chair Herman Farrell.

All contacts with legislators are useful. However, some methods are more effective than others. In order of greatest impact: Visit the local office of your legislator in person. Call the local or Albany office and speak with your legislator or an aide. Write a letter requesting that your legislator support the bill. Send a postcard. Send an e-mail. If you choose to write, be sure to include your name and return address. If you don’t know who your representative is, go to to search by address or call (212) 245-4802, ext. 176.

The entire text of the bill before the Finance Committee can be read at Click on Bills/Laws in the left side panel. Enter the number of the bill, S-6308, and select text.