by VR Sreeraman on  August 25, 2009 at 4:41 PM Health Insurance News
 $10 Billion Provision May Aid Retired Autoworkers; NFIB Opposes House Plan
A $10 billion proposal may help retired autoworkers, steelworkers and schoolteachers afford coverage. Meanwhile, the largest small business association has turned against health reform plans.

Bloomberg reports that health care reform legislation "includes $10 billion to pay some of the most expensive medical costs for millions of autoworkers, steelworkers, schoolteachers and other early retirees with coverage." The provision is included in both House and Senate bills and "may help offset health-care concessions made earlier this year by the United Auto Workers as part of a government rescue of General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC and related cost-cutting at Ford Motor Co."

"Company, municipal and union-sponsored plans that meet eligibility would be reimbursed for 80 percent of the health costs from $15,000 to $90,000 for early retirees ages 55 to 64, according to the legislative proposal." The UAW "said in a statement in response to questions about the proposal that the provision would benefit a 'wide range of retiree health care plans, including those sponsored by large private-sector employers, by state and local governments, and by VEBAs' " (Green, 8/21).

Meanwhile, The Washington Times reports that while some small business owners support health care reform, including a public insurance option, "the largest lobbying group for small-business owners says the health care bills in Congress would hurt" small business owners, and, "in a major blow to President Obama and his allies, is complaining publicly about the plans' most important components."

"The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) says small-business owners should worry about the bills' requirement that employers provide health insurance, and about higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for the proposed benefits." The administration had hoped to garner the support of small business lobbyists, and "NFIB made pro-health-care-reform noises for months, encouraging speculation that it might jump aboard the Democrats' legislative campaign. But those hopes have been dashed. NFIB, which claims 350,000 members, has opposed the major health care reform bills in the House" (Haberkorn, 8/24).

The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union reports on how health reform could affect different segments of the population. "The goal of the legislation is to cover more of the uninsured, and improve coverage for people who have minimal coverage. But it could also affect people who have insurance privately or through the government" (Conner and Cox, 8/24)

Source: Kaiser Health News

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