Neighborhood Legal Services (NLS) Helps People Who Lose Health Benefits During COVID-19 Pandemic

Regardless of income level, certified NLS Healthcare Navigators provide free confidential phone consultations to explore options

People on the verge of losing their employer provided health coverage because they have been furloughed or fired in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic can navigate their options through Neighborhood Legal Services (NLS). Trained and state certified NLS healthcare navigators can help individuals figure out the best solution, depending on their situation.

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) requires that health coverage be provided by their group health plan but that might not be the best option. There are alternatives that may provide the same or better coverage at a lower cost.

However, the regulatory system is complex. NLS healthcare navigators provide free and unbiased guidance through the New York State of Health Marketplace. This includes help filling out the forms for eligibility and enrollment.

“Especially during this unprecedented time, people can get stuck trying to figure out their eligibility for various programs,” says Penny Selmonsky, Deputy Director, Supervising Attorney, Health & Economic Security Unit. “Our NLS navigators are on-call to provide free guidance to figure out what’s right depending on the particular circumstances.”

While NLS usually serves the low-income community, during the national emergency no person seeking help will be turned away.

For more information, those interested can contact Neighborhood Legal Services toll-free at 1-888-869-6576 or

With offices in Buffalo, Batavia and Niagara Falls, Neighborhood Legal Services remains open for TELEPHONE INTAKE during the COVID-19 pandemic Monday through Friday: Erie/Niagara County residents (716) 847-0650 and Genesee/Wyoming/Orleans County residents (585) 343-5450, or via email:  We can help with domestic violence and other family law matters; health insurance; government benefits/SNAP/shelter/benefits counseling; Social Security disability/SSI hearings; and evictions/housing conditions/housing discrimination matters.

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