Boxer introduces COBRA benefits bill for domestic partners

Sen. Barbara Boxer
Sen. Barbara Boxer

Washington, D.C. — Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) yesterday introduced the Equal Access to COBRA Act, which would allow many domestic partners the same access married spouses currently have to COBRA health coverage if their partner loses a job.

The law would apply to companies that already offer health coverage to domestic partners and their children. Currently, more than half of Fortune 500 companies cover domestic partners under their health plans.

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

Under federal law, employers must offer continuing health care coverage to departing employees and their beneficiaries for up to 36 months.  Current federal laws related to COBRA coverage do not apply to domestic partners or same-sex spouses — even at companies that offer health coverage to domestic partners of employees.

This legislation would change federal law to allow equal access to COBRA coverage for all individuals who are covered by an employer’s health plan.  It would apply to domestic partners as they are defined by an employer’s health insurance plan.

Boxer is up for re-election this November.

—  David Taffet