The Stand

Cantwell: COVID bill includes help for Boeing, Intalco workers

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 4, 2021) — U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) helped secure a provision in the COVID-19 relief bill that provides a one-year extension of the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC), which helps individuals eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) reduce their health care costs. The credit covers a significant portion of health care premium costs for those enrolled in TAA. Thousands of former Boeing workers who were or could be laid off between May 2019 and May 2021, and more than 700 workers who were laid off from Alcoa’s Intalco plant in Ferndale, are eligible for TAA.

“We’ve been able to expand the COBRA tax credit program to help people who have been unemployed… continue health insurance. This is very important for laid off workers in the State of Washington like the aerospace workers,” Sen. Cantwell said in a speech on the Senate floor this evening.

COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985) is a federal law that allows individuals and their immediate family members to stay on their employer-sponsored health coverage for up to 18 months after the individual leaves their job or is laid off. Individuals enrolled in Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), including former Boeing and Intalco workers, are eligible for a Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC), which covers 72.5% of their COBRA health care premiums — approximately the amount that would have otherwise been covered by their employer.

The HCTC extension in the COVID relief bill will save thousands of formerly employed Boeing and Intalco workers in Washington state from having to pay the majority of their health care premium costs out of pocket.

Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) is provided to workers who are displaced to outsourcing overseas and international trade pressures, and who have had a TAA petition approved by the Department of Labor. Senator Cantwell led delegation letters supporting TAA petitions for Boeing workers and Intalco plant workers in Ferndale, which have since both been granted. In March, Cantwell introduced a bill that would expand the Health Coverage Tax Credit to all aerospace manufacturing workers, regardless of TAA status, and extend the credit for two years.

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