KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

States And Firms Seek Health Reform Funds While Opposing Law

News outlets are reporting that some states and businesses who oppose parts or all of the health reform law are applying for the financial relief it provides.  

The Hill: "About two dozen businesses associated with high-profile opposition to the healthcare reform law are taking advantage of a provision that helps pay for their retirees' medical bills, according to a review of federal records by The Hill." For instance, Koch Industries in Kansas - whose owners, David and Charles Koch, opposed the law and help bankroll the Tea Party movement - is applying for the early retirees' subsidy. Also, "more than a dozen members of the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have also been accepted into the program. The Chamber has been a leading foe of the law" (Pecquet, 9/1).

The Fort Worth Star Telegram: Four Texas cities and 90 other employers have applied and been accepted to receive portions of the money "though Texas is among the states suing the federal government over the constitutionality of the healthcare reform law." One official said, "Anytime we can get additional funding to help lower our costs, it is a good thing. The city of North Richland Hills has a self-insurance fund for both employee and retiree health insurance coverage. Any reimbursements North Richland Hills gets through this program will go back into the self-insurance fund" (Tinsley, 9/1).

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: The state of Alaska, which is part of a suit to overturn part of the health law, is also an approved recipient of the early retirees' funding. "In announcing that he was joining the lawsuit, Gov. Sean Parnell said in April that the 'federal government has reached well beyond the score of its authority- into the lives and freedom of Alaskans'" (Cole, 9/2).

Meanwhile, the state of Nebraska is pursuing a $1 million grant to help set up a health insurance exchange as part of the overhaul, the Omaha World-Herald reports that Nebraska "Gov. Dave Heineman once again mixed politics with pragmatism about the federal health care overhaul Wednesday, while education leaders wrestled over taking a stand on the law. Heineman blasted the law in a letter urging a group of state senators to call for its repeal. In now-familiar language, he said the law 'raises taxes on Nebraskans, cuts Medicare and causes health insurance premiums to increase.' But the governor also announced that Nebraska is seeking a $1 million federal grant to plan for a health insurance exchange" (Stoddard, 9/2).

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