ObamaCare’s Early Retiree Benefits Program: So Awesome the Administration Had to Shut It Down Early

How do you tell if a $5 billion federal program is a success? If you’re in charge of ObamaCare’s Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP)—a slush fund that has already approved grants worth tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to state governments, unions, and big corporations—success means giving away so much money so fast that you have to shut the program down early.

ObamaCare created the $5 billion ERRP in order to encourage employers, public and private, to continue to provide health insurance to early retirees. The potential for abuse should be obvious: Any employer with a large number of early retirees can easily make a claim on the money if it has a remotely plausible argument that it might have dropped benefits.

It’s hardly surprising, then, to find out that the money turned out to be insufficient compared to demand. The program was supposed to last until 2014, but recent estimates indicated that it would likely run out of money by 2012. Yesterday, the administration admitted the money was effectively all used up when they announced that they were closing the program: No new claims will be accepted after the end of this month.

So a program begun in 2010 and designed to last until 2014 was shuttered less than half way through 2011. And that, according to the administration, is what makes it so great. Philip Klein notes a telling line from an oversight hearing about the program this morning:

During a Friday Energy and Commerce hearing, Republicans questioned Steven Larsen, the director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, about the quick burn rate. “It’s a reflection of the success of the program," Larsen boasted.

Who’s making money off the program? Mostly state and local governments, unions, and large corporations, according to a memo put together by Republican staff on the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

Over one-third of the $535 million spent by the ERRP in 2010 was spent on just five government entities. Fifty-six percent of the ERRP funding spent in 2010 ($298 million) went to government organizations.  

With a $57.8 million claim, California’s Public Employee Retirement System was the biggest state beneficiary. Grants of between $20 and $38 million also went to public employee plans in Kentucky, Georgia, Texas, and New Jersey, according to the memo.

Unions and large corporations also took big payouts from the fund, reports Byron York:

The biggest single recipient of an early-retiree bailout is the United Auto Workers, which has so far received $206,798,086.  Other big recipients include AT&T, which received $140,022,949, and Verizon, which received $91,702,538.  General Electric, in the news recently for not paying any U.S. taxes last year, received $36,607,818.  General Motors, recipient of a massive government bailout, received $19,002,669.

The Obama administration is trying to sell the program as a winner, and its early end as a sign that it worked even better than expected. But it looks a lot more like yet another example of the many ways in which ObamaCare mixes poor planning with gratuitous taxpayer funded handouts. If that’s success, I’d hate to see what failure looks like.

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  • Jim||

    Well my god, by that standard, the faster I run out of money, the more successful I am!

  • ||

    That makes Donald Trump a success many times over!

  • POTUS De Donad||

    shut up and I'll make you my drug czar

  • ||

    You're already the stupidity czar, rectal.

  • rather||

    so says the author of the most creative reply, and of course a renown gourmand too.

  • Note to Self||

    Buy more ammo.

  • Off Topic||

    Murder charge dismissed against ex-DeKalb cop

    A DeKalb County judge on Friday signed off on a request by prosecutors to dismiss a murder charge against a former policeman accused of killing an unarmed suspect.

    Ex-officer Torrey Thompson had been charged with the murder of 21-year-old Lorenzo Matthews, who was shot eight times while confronting and then fleeing police who wanted to question him, authorities said.

    The court order said the case is no longer being prosecuted because of a Georgia Supreme Court ruling last year that found Thompson's statements about the incident, given to internal affairs and investigators, cannot be used against him at trial.

    Because the statements were suppressed, District Attorney Robert James said prosecutors would be unable to prove intent.

    "As an element of murder, you have to prove intent," he said. "Without his statements, it would be next to impossible to prove whether he believed the victim had a weapon or didn't have a weapon."

    Thompson, 34, expressed relief.

    http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb.....94653.html

  • Aesop||

    "As an element of murder, you have to prove intent," he said. "Without his statements, it would be next to impossible to prove whether he believed the victim had a weapon or didn't have a weapon."

    The moral to our story? ALWAYS carry a weapon.

  • ||

    Another case where the courts' bending over backwards for defendants actually increases the power of the state and its agents.

    Think about this next time you guys are singing the praises of jury nullification.

  • Some Guy||

    I thought that principle had been well established with the first Cash For Clunkers.

    So look for ERPB 2 in a few weeks.

  • DJF||

    Yep, given away taxpayer money and you will have more demand then money. Why not cut out the middle man (taxpayer) and have these people get loans directly from the Chinese. They can pay the Chinese back in body parts.

  • ||

    Chinese are skinny people, they have no use for fat American limbs.

  • Caption Contest||

    "I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that dog, Checkers. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American people. Thank you"

  • And to all those.....||

    Naddering Naysayers:

    I will NOT return my Nobel Prize!

  • Goddammit||

    Obama has Tricky's body language down!

  • Ska||

    Suderman uses a pic from very demotivational, using Charlie Sheen approved alt-text. I can only assume he's playing Call of Duty between posts.

  • Peter Suderman||

    I haven't played COD for weeks!

  • Ska||

    You probably use the Famas and second chance too, noob. ;)

  • ||

    You COD monkeys make me sick, you military-fetishizing primates. Killing hookers and cops is much more fun.

  • hooker||

    honey, I barely felt it.

  • cops||

    my ass is still sore

  • Ska||

    As Bruce Lee would say to O'Hara "Hookers don't shoot back."

    Sometimes I feel like killing my enemies with a competitive sport flavor. Other times I like to hunt for alchemy ingredients and make potions. And then there are times where I feel like gunning down Russian immigrants in front of Jizzy Jams. Variety my friend.

  • ||

    You're just fickle.

    I just want Diablo III to be released. Then I can be happy again.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Operation Flashpoint

    If I politically deny our "right" of international adventurism in real life, the least I can do is kill those commie fuckers in video games!

  • Sudden||

    Tell Rockstar to make a new goddamned GTA then.

    And I want a 3-D version of San Andreas, chop chop.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    If you think that's fun, you should try Homefront. It's a 2nd Amendment lover's wet dream.

    You get to LITERALLY kill the communists out of San Francisco!

    In all actuality, the plot is also eerily tenable (even if the details would necessarily differ). It's fucking dreary, but good.

  • Peter Suderman||

    Recent games: Homefront, Dragon Age 2, Crysis 2

    The only one I've put any time into is Homefront (mostly because I wrote about it). I like COD, but online it's a pain. Who has time to try to beat the perfect twitch reflexes of 14 year olds who can play/practice 30 hours a week?

  • Number 2||

    "General Electric, in the news recently for not paying any U.S. taxes last year, received $36,607,818"

    And its CEO is a Friend of Obama. Who'da thunk it? Go figure!

  • mad libertarian guy||

    You gotta love a company who has shifted its business plan from "making cool shit people want to buy" to "let's see how much we can fleece from government".

  • oBAMA the jaunty golfer||

    My Friend always lets me win...

  • LifeStrategies||

    But that's not just GE, it includes General Motors, another big receipient of taxpayer's money, and many others...

    But you gotta admire Obama. He's so generous handing out cash to crony capitalists provided it's taxpaye - YOUR - money

  • Number 2||

    "General Electric, in the news recently for not paying any U.S. taxes last year, received $36,607,818"

    And its CEO is a Friend of Obama. Who'da thunk it? Go figure!

  • Gaijin97||

    ERRP, tarp, hamp....why do all these gov giveaways sound like gassy bodily noises?

  • what really happened...||

    "Let me just say this..."

    bzzzzz. bzzz. bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    "...about that. I..."

    bzzzzzzzzzz-bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. bzz.

    "...am NOT..."

    bzzzzz. bzzzzzzzzz.

    < swipe >

    "Gotcha!"

  • MJ||

    "Other big recipients include AT&T, which received $140,022,949, and Verizon, which received $91,702,538. General Electric, in the news recently for not paying any U.S. taxes last year, received $36,607,818. General Motors, recipient of a massive government bailout, received $19,002,669."

    Yet somehow, to the Tonys of the world, free marketers are the ones in the pockets of corporate freeloaders.

  • sevo||

    "Any employer with a large number early retirees can easily make a claim on the money if it has a remotely plausible argument that it might have dropped benefits."

    So long as you're not obviously laughing when you do, well, you just hit the jackpot!

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