Coming on the heels of the auto makers “hinting” that they will not be able to repay the TARP bailout money they received, comes yet another union grab of taxpayer money. But, this time it’s only $10 billion dollars that we will never see again.
The mechanism for this theft is contained in Section 164 (at page 65) of the Waxman health care bill. So far, this provision seems to have been able to fly under the radar, I suppose because it takes some time to put all of the pieces of this section together, or because there are far too many other glaring problems with the bill. In either event, Section 164 of the bill is entitled, Reinsurance Program for Retirees, and although innocuous sounding, read on. It provides:
…the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall establish a temporary reinsurance program to provide reimbursement to assist participating employment-based plans with the cost of providing health benefits to retirees…
At page 66 of the proposed bill, a retiree is defined as an “individual who is 55 years of age or older”.
Think about that for a moment. What employers provide health benefits for retirees, and what employees can retire at 55? The only employers that come to my mind are unionized employers, and, the only employees that have the luxury of retiring at 55 are unionized employees. I’m sure that there may be some non-union employers and employees who will also qualify, but the primary beneficiaries of this largess are union health care plans.
Under this section, the union insurance plans submit claims to the federal government for reimbursement for any claim they paid that exceeds $15,000, but is less than $90,000, and, the government reimburses them for 80% of the those costs. (page 68) The reimbursements are to be used to lower the costs paid by the union retirees for things such as premiums, co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance and out of pocket costs. (page 69)
This “temporary” program is funded by $10 billion, and, per page 71 of the bill, this $10 billion,
shall not be taken into account for the purpose of any budgetary enforcement proceedings.
That’s government speak for, if we ever get a fiscally responsible Congress that demands a balanced budget, these funds must still be paid.
Of course, unions other than the UAW will benefit from this, but, haven’t we already given the UAW enough of our money? Shouldn’t the UAW politely decline?
So, write or call your representative and ask them why your pocket will be fleeced so that union retirees can continue to receive “gold plated” insurance, when, after the fleecing, you’ll be lucky to be able to afford the crummy government option? Or, call any local union listed in your phone book and ask them if they are willing to subsidize the cost of your health care.