HHS Adds 1,000 Companies To Early Retiree Benefit Program
Congress Daily: The federal government added 1,000 companies to the "early retiree benefit program established under the healthcare overhaul law, bringing the total number of companies participating to 3,000. The $5 billion program is a stopgap measure meant to help cover retired Americans over the age of 55 who are not eligible for Medicare." The funding ends in 2014. The announcement followed a "report that 3M Co. would be dropping retiree health coverage in 2013, in favor of giving retirees an unspecified health reimbursement." Meanwhile, "Republicans seized on the announcement as further proof that a frequent promise from President Obama to voters during the debate on the law--that American's could keep their health insurance if they liked it--was not true" (McCarthy, 10/4).
Minnesota Public Radio: The 3M announcement drew attention to an analysis being conducted by many employers. "Many employers are reevaluating their health insurance benefits now that federal health care reform has become law. Minnesota-based 3M announced it would change its coverage for retirees-both early retirees and those over age 65. But some experts say that the number of companies that offered health benefits for retired employees was already falling and health care reform will speed up the process" (Stawicki, 10/4).
The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer: "More than 50 businesses and nonprofit agencies in the state have qualified for federal health care subsidies to offset the cost of insuring their early retirees. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the first 29 recipients in North Carolina five weeks ago, and that number has nearly doubled since then. The subsidies are designed for early retirees ages 55 to 64 who are too young for Medicare. The subsidies pay up to 80 percent of annual drug and medical costs between $15,000 and $90,000 per early retiree. Employers have to pay all the costs for the first $15,000" (Murawski, 10/5).
Detroit Free Press: "More than 140 Michigan employer and union-sponsored health plans have been approved to receive federal funds to help pay medical claims for early retirees, according to a Monday news release. Many offering these benefits are municipalities, along with Detroit's three automakers" (Anstett, 10/5).
WHTC in Holland, Mich.: "The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the approval of about one-thousand additional participants, including 142 in Michigan" (10/5).
The Associated Press/Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that HHS "says Bank of Hawaii has been accepted into the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program. It said Monday that the Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors Association of Hawaii Local 675 Health & Welfare Fund has also been accepted. The two join the Hawaii Medical Service Association and The Queen's Health Systems in the program" (10/4).
WOWK in Huntington, W.Va.: "Thousands of West Virginia early retirees, and their families, are now eligible for health coverage. In the mountain state, 10 organizations have just signed on for the program. Those include Severstal Steel, Highmark West Virginia and The Fenton Art Glass Company" (Clutter, 10/4).