Sunday, August 16, 2009

Obama Health Care: Taxpayers Subsidize Unions and Community Organizers

I haven't heard anyone in a Townhall ask President Obama why the House Health Care Bill calls for taxpayers to subsidize health care for retirees including all the underfunded union retirement funds and "volunteers." Updates in red text below.

I'll be the first to say that I have no magic to call upon to aid in reading the House Health Care Bill, so I'll tell you what I see here, and if you have thoughts about it, or think I have it wrong, please leave a comment. Maybe we can get this figured out together. The text of the Bill without page numbers is here. Section (SEC) numbers are given, but page numbers are not provided. Here is a link to the pdf of the Bill, with page numbers. (Thank you to JeffHead.com) Page 65- 69, starting at line 12 SEC. 164. REINSURANCE PROGRAM FOR RETIREES. This provides for taxpayers to subsidize 80% of health insurance benefits for retirees, retiree's spouses and surviving spouses and dependents. Included in the services to be reimbursed is medical, surgical hospital, prescription drug, and other benefits.

Deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance costs and out-of-pocket costs are among the costs to be reimbursed by taxpayers. The reimbursements start when a retiree's claim exceeds $15,000 with a ceiling for reimbursement of up to $89,999.00. The age required to meet "retirement" guidelines is 55 years old or older. A retiree is disqualified if they are covered by Medicare or Medicaid (Social Security Act XVIII). If I understand this correctly, on page 66 (A) Line 4 (i) it says that the "eligible" plans must be maintained by "former employers or employee associations, or a voluntary employees' beneficiary association...." I think this must mean unions as employee associations, and groups like ACORN as "voluntary employees" associations. Let me know what you think. Kathleen Sebelius, the current Secretary of Health and Human services will administer the reimbursements. There seems to be little oversight to monitor the claims presented to her. This entire reimbursement program is known as "reinsurance."

The Treasury will establish a "Retiree Reserve Trust Fund," and reimbursement will be made from that fund. On page 70 (B) Line 16, it says the Treasury will fund the Trust Fund with Treasury "moneys not otherwise appropriated." Do you think our Treasury has any unappropriated money lying around? I don't. Secretary Sebelius will request funds from the Treasury but she cannot request more than $10 billion dollars. On page 71 (ii) beginning at Line 6, I believe this says that the funds in the Trust Fund "shall not be taken into account for purposes of any budget enforcement procedures....It goes on to say, if I understand this correctly, the enforcement procedures that are used for purposes of a Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act - cannot have an effect on the Trust Fund money. In other words, I think it is hands off this money for unions and maybe ACORN, no matter the financial dilemma of the government. From my first reading, I saw nothing in the text that indicates this program has an end date, but Stanford Matthews at blog@MoreWhat read it differently, and I think he is right. The Bill says: Page 70 (B) FUNDING, Lines 16-22:

There are hereby appropriated to the Trust fund, out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, an amount requested by the Secretary as necessary to carry out this section, except that the total of all such amounts requested shall not exceed $10,000,000,000.
If the government adheres to the law of this legislation, the program will end after the $10 billion is is expended. I cannot see it ever ending, once it gets started. In closing, I assume the first goal of this "reinsurance" program and the Retiree Trust Fund is to get money to the unions who lost their retirements when the company went belly-up or the government bought them through a bailout (think auto industry), as well as a way for President Obama to pay back the unions and community organizer for getting him to the White House. How do you feel about this? Related: Obama Health Care Lies: "Keeping your Health Care Coverage"

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