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Federal aid coming for jobless workers

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor announced an approximately $2.422-million grant to provide an estimated 1,892 jobless workers with partial premium payments for health insurance coverage.

The grant is awarded to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, and will be administered in partnership with Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina to support eligible individuals from those states. The grant will be used to make “gap filler” payments for unemployed individuals who are receiving Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits and are eligible for the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) program. Under HCTC, eligible individuals can receive 80 percent of premium costs for qualified health insurance programs.

These payments cover the gap period, that is, the time it takes to complete Internal Revenue Service enrollment, processing and first payments under the HCTC program. The four states will provide two to three months of gap filler payments for the participants.

The amount of the grant released will be funded by resources made available for health coverage through National Emergency Grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

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