Health Care Hangover

March/25/2010 15:46PM
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The health care reform party is over. Joe Biden has sobered up after saying the f word into a live mike. It’s amazing he wasn’t wearing a lamp shade. Now, it’s back to reality. Such a fine party it was. The work took over Washington. Not much else got done the past nine months, thank God. Now it’s time to implement the 2,700 page work of art. Well, not exactly. The President, campaigner at heart, is still selling the deal in Iowa. I guess jobs can wait.

But, wait, as Obama sells the new law in Iowa, the Senate found out the bill will have to go back to the House for another vote. The reconciliation process only works for an identical bill. When the Democrats stuck the student loan bill in the health care bill, it changed the bill. Isn’t that amazing. Sticking an amendment in that mandates all student loans are funded by the government seems tightly related to heath care doesn’t it?No, it was a bill that might not have passed the senate, so it was stuck on a bill that also didn’t pass the Senate by normal rules. So, back to the House it goes.

Republicans tried to put an amendment in that would prevent convicted rapists and child molester from getting reimbursed by the government for drugs to treat erectile dysfunction. But, the Democrats voted it down. They want all perverts to be paid for their Viagra so they can rape and molest some more.

There’s a few other problems with the bill. Seems the promise to take care of kids won’t happen until 2014 without a language change. And, of course, companies like Verizon are sending letters out to employees telling them there may be changes in benefits. Caterpillar had written a letter saying they would be hit with a $100 million charge this year if the bill passed.

Here’s the little hitch on that.The new law changed the tax rules for retiree heath benefits. In 2003, a modest tax subsidy was put in to encourage companies to keep drug plans for retirees. Basically, it made the cost $665 rather than the $1,209 it would be with Medicare. Democrats, in the new law, put a 35% tax on that benefit. It will give the government a $5.4 billion tax boost and, of course, will cause corporations to drop the drug program for retirees, including me, to avoid the tax.

As a corporate warrior, retired, I know the story. All across the land corporate HR personnel have been studying the new law and it’s impact on their corporation. They have huddled with the top brass. Here’s the story. Our revenues have been going down due to the economy. Our expenses have been cut to the bone.We have laid off all the people we can. Or portion of the employee heath care package has been going up. Here’s an opportunity to dump the retiree plans and blame the government. The letters have already been drafted. Now, it’s just the timing.

The law requires the corporations to take the hit on the books immediately. So, it won’t be long until I get the little letter telling me that my Medicare supplement insurance and prescription drug plans will end on 12/31/10. The company wanted to keep them but the new health care laws make it too expensive to do so.

Won’t that be a party when those letters go out to the millions of retired Americans all over the country.I can hear those corks popping right now. Florida will be on alert. First, mess with their Medicare supplement insurance, then make sure those who don’t need that get their supplements cut off by their former employers. They will be break dancing to the harmonicas.

So, the President is out putting lipstick on the pig while a few responsible journalists are digging in to tell you what’s really coming down the road. Want to kiss the pig?

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