Health care bill to give union health plans $10 billion

Posted on August 29, 2009

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Earlier in the week, the Detroit Free Press reported that HR 3200, among its other provisions, gives $10 billion to the health plans of unions, which supporters say still isn’t enough. It’s yet another huge reason why the current health care reform proposal is unacceptable and another unnecessary bailout of an industry that has had a few already, and it’s why the Detroit News’ editorial board ripped the inclusion and urged its expulsion from any health care reform package being concocted. Here’s what they had to say:

One reason the public so distrusts the health care plan being considered by Congress is that so many troublesome details keep bubbling out of the massive legislation.

The latest example is the $10 billion taxpayers will be asked to shell out to prop up the United Auto Workers’ retiree health insurance program.

That provision is tucked deep into the bill passed by the House.

In effect, it would ask every taxpayer, regardless of whether they’ll have health insurance coverage themselves after they retire — and most won’t — to chip in to maintain the UAW’s coverage, which even after the union’s givebacks is still better than what the average American worker receives.

The helping hand is a recognition by Congress that the union’s volunteer employee benefit association, or VEBA, can’t possibly stay solvent if it is asked to cover all of the union workers taking early buyouts from the Detroit automakers.

So the union’s supporters added language to the House’s gargantuan health care bill that requires the federal government to pick up most of the cost of catastrophic claims for union retirees age 55 to 64.

The biggest beneficiary would be the UAW, which got $60 billion from the Big Three in exchange for taking on the obligation for retiree health care.

… Taxpayers should not be stuck paying for union benefits they didn’t negotiate and, for the most part, don’t enjoy themselves.

It’s hard to argue with the logic of that last line. It’s an obvious political payback for the loyally Democratic labor unions like the UAW and the AFL-CIO, who have, no surprise, vigorously supported the current health care reform bill and have organized counter-protests at the August town halls. Unions simply cannot expect the American taxpayer to help bail them out once again, and without question this provision needs to be removed from any final form of the health care reform bill.

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Posted in: News, Politics