MANHATTAN (CN) — Taken to court for breaking his health insurance promises to campaign staff, billionaire Mike Bloomberg says he will cover the cost of COBRA health insurance for those staffers through Election Day.
“We know this is a difficult and stressful time for everyone as we all aim to keep ourselves, our families and communities safe and healthy during the Covid-19 pandemic,” human resources for the campaign told former staffers in an email passed along Monday to Courthouse News on Monday.
“Given these extraordinary circumstances, the campaign will cover the cost of COBRA through November 2020. This is aimed at supporting those who are enrolled in Mike Bloomberg 2020 benefits and have not already secured replacement healthcare coverage.”
An acronym for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, COBRA provides eligible employees and their dependents the option of continued health insurance coverage when an employee loses their job or experiences a reduction of work hours.
The class actions against Bloomberg began piling up last month, with staffers saying the former New York City mayor had reneged on promise to pay them through November, even if he was eliminated from the Democratic presidential race by then.
Once Bloomberg dropped out on March 4, the workers said so did their benefits — coinciding, unfortunately for them, with the onslaught of a global pandemic.
A campaign representative denied Monday that any staffers lost coverage.
“The campaign has covered health insurance for former employees since Mike dropped out,” the unnamed representative said Monday. “Today’s announcement makes it official that given the challenges associated with the pandemic, the campaign will continue to cover health care through November 2020 for former employees who haven’t secured other coverage.”
An attorney for 100 of the former staffers suing Bloomberg applauded the announcement but noted that the case is still alive as they are suing for damages and unpaid wages.
“We think this is a great development,” Hannah Cole-Chu, an attorney with at Outten & Golden, said in a phone interview Monday. “We think it’s the result of our clients’ effort.”
Bloomberg’s pricey run for president was short-lived — he shelled out $1 billion of his own money on a 104-day campaign, Politico reported.
As noted in one of the many class actions filed against Bloomberg last month, the ex-mayor’s firing of field organizers “and other campaign employees deprived them of promised income and health care benefits, leaving them and their families potentially uninsured in the face of a global pandemic.”