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Letter to the Editor: Time to Rethink the Unemployment Compensation Philosophy

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To the Editor:

The need to extend the $600 per week additional unemployment benefits by the federal government is right on target. A family member of mine who works in the travel industry for seniors is a victim of the pandemic is not likely to return to work until there is a vaccine.

While the $600 per week additional benefit is a great stop-gap measure, federal and state governments as well as society should take the opportunity to revisit the issue of unemployment benefits. The United States should follow most other Western European nations and view unemployment benefits as wage replacement. For example, Denmark pays 90% of loss wages. And here, is the kicker, with universal health care coverage, those unemployed workers do not have to worry about health insurance. Our unemployed worker’s option for health care is the unaffordable COBRA coverage from your former employer or coverage under the Affordable Care Act if your state permits it, which President Trump is trying to dismantle.

In our society, we have long viewed unemployment as a personal failure. You are also viewed as failure if you cannot find a job after you are unemployed. We need to change our approach to wage replacement and health insurance for the unemployed. Our Departments of Labor need to do more than pay claims; they need to granted extended funding to assist the unemployed in finding new jobs or careers.

As the saying goes, “We are all in it together.”

Tom Connolly
West Hartford

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