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Mayor Bowser’s Emergency COVID-19 Relief at Work Keeping District Residents and Small Businesses Covered with Quality Health Insurance

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that thousands of DC residents and small businesses with DC Health Link coverage have had their past-due health insurance premiums paid thanks to a local program using American Rescue Plan COVID-19 relief funds for cities and states. Of the $15 million relief fund established by Mayor Bowser, nearly $13.5 million paid for past-due health insurance premiums, benefiting 5,803 people—1,761 residents with individual health insurance coverage and 4,042 people with coverage through 408 District small businesses covered on DC Health Link.

“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating health and economic impacts for our residents and local businesses – this program helps us tackle both by keeping people connected to high-quality health care,” said Mayor Bowser. “In addition to keeping people covered, let’s continue working together to ensure everyone in our community is accessing the care they need and going to the doctor for their annual check-ups.”

Mayor Bowser included $15 million in FY21 supplemental budget to help residents and employers to stay insured, to help prevent medical bankruptcies and bad credit, and to provide relief needed to recover financially as the city recovers from the economic and human toll caused by the pandemic. DC Council authorized this FY21 supplemental spending in June.

DC Health Link is responsible for implementing the emergency relief program. Nearly $13.5 million has been paid for past-due premiums from January 2020 through August 2021. DC Health Link simplified this process by using presumptive categories to qualify businesses and residents based on information in the DC Health Link system. Under federal guidelines, a few examples of DC Health Link small businesses that qualified for relief include: businesses in hard-hit industries like tourism, travel, and hospitality; businesses that received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 public health emergency; businesses located in ZIP codes where data shows these businesses suffered significant losses in revenue; and businesses with a history of clean, consistent, and timely payments before the pandemic, and that went into arrears during the pandemic.

Health Link applied similar presumptive qualifications for residents with health insurance premiums in the arrears. In September, DC Health Link notified employers and residents of their eligibility. This month, employers will see the relief payments reflected in their DC Health Link accounts. Residents with individual coverage will see the relief reflected in their October invoices.