Remember back in the day when Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urged Congress to pass health-care reform so that we could find out what was in the furshlugginer bill?
Here's one more nauseating outcome of that mentality: The Affordable Health Care and Reform Act includes a provision to subsidize coverage for early retirees in the public and private sector who quit working but aren't old enough to qualify for Medicare:
The $5 billion Early Retirement Reinsurance Program is a little-known provision of last year's health care reform law that was designed to encourage companies to provide health care to early retirees, which are people who retire in their 50s or early 60s before Medicare benefits kick in at age 65….
The program was supposed to run until 2014, when major aspects of the health overhaul law kick in, including a ban against insurers denying coverage for a pre-existing health condition. Many people between 50 and 64 have health issues that can make it difficult to get affordable coverage on their own, according to the administration.
The early retiree program, however, stopped accepting applications in May after spending roughly half its funds in less than a year. It could run out of money next year unless Congress approves additional funding.
Who could have seen that coming? You offer a pile of free (i.e. taxpayer!) money for public and private companies and their workers to cash out—and they do! So who's snagging the benefit so far? The Cincinnati Enquirer focuses on its area in this account:
The program has paid out nearly $142 million to 64 Ohio employers as of June 10. About half went to the Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio. Procter & Gamble, which makes household items like detergent and diapers, received $6.6 million—the most of any company in Ohio. Cincinnati Bell got $1.9 million; Western and Southern Life Insurance Company got $1.1 million; and supermarket giant Kroger got $678,167….
Nine employers in Kentucky received $65 million, although most of that amount went to state government, which got $63.4 million. Some 63 employers in Indiana received about $16 million, including Columbus-based Cummins, which got $3.4 million, the most among all recipients in the state….
Outside the Tristate area, some corporations have received even larger payments. Telephone services provider AT&T has received $141.5 million, more than any other private company. Verizon ranks second with $91.7 million, followed by GE's $36.6 million and Boeing's $34.1 million.
In a world where most of us will be working for more years than we ever expected, is there any group in America less sympathetic than early retirees? Yes, there is: That golden subset of early retirees who get part of their cashout covered by taxpayers for no good goddamn reason. We're talking a three-year gap here before the even more idiotic and overreaching aspects of Obamacare kicks in. Folks who choose early retirement in this interstice should either suck up the insurance costs on their lonesome or grind out a few more years of work.