Instead of dealing with nationalizing health care out in the open, the Obama stimulus plan takes the incremental – but significant step – to add more than one million Americans to the Medicaid roles if they are unemployed, or will soon be unemployed. This plan also includes millionaires who were laid off and not only expands COBRA coverage, but pays for 65 percent of the COBRA coverage!
When I began reading this article in the Wall Street Journal, I kept thinking about the COBRA program, which allows employees to carry their previous insurance for 18 months if they get laid off or another life change event occurs. The employer does not cover the cost of the premiums, but instead, the employee is able to continue coverage by paying the premium the employer was paying during employment. Confusing isn’t it?
Let’s just get rid of that confusion by having the federal government pick up 65 percent of the COBRA premiums!
From Kimberley Strassel’s post in the WSJ, with my emphasis in bold.
Under “stimulus,” Medicaid is now on offer not to just poor Americans, but Americans who have lost their jobs. And not just Americans who have lost their jobs, but their spouses and their children. And not Americans who recently lost their jobs, but those who lost jobs, say, early last year. And not just Americans who already lost their jobs, but those who will lose their jobs up to 2011. The federal government is graciously footing the whole bill. The legislation also forbids states to apply income tests in most cases.
House Democrat Henry Waxman was so thrilled by this blowout, it was left to Republicans to remind him that the very banking millionaires he dragged to the Hill last year for a grilling would now qualify for government aid. His response? A GOP proposal to limit subsidies to Americans with incomes under $1 million was accepted during markup, but had disappeared by final passage. In this new health-care nirvana, even the rich are welcome. CBO estimates? An additional 1.2 million on the federal Medicaid dime in 2009.
The “stimulus” also hijacks Cobra, a program that lets the unemployed retain access to their former company health benefits — usually for about 18 months. The new stimulus permits any former employee over the age of 55 to keep using Cobra right up until they qualify for Medicare at age 65. And here’s the kicker: Whereas employees were previously responsible for paying their health premiums while on Cobra, now the feds will pay 65%. CBO estimates? Seven million Americans will have the feds mostly pay their insurance bills in 2009.
Wow. This is not stimulus, this is welfare!