States take hypocritical stance on health reform

Some states are taking a two-faced approach to the healthcare overhaul law.

Seven states are suing to overturn the healthcare reform law, saying it's unconstitutional, the  Associated Press reports. But that's not stopping them from grabbing subsidies created under the Affordable Care Act for early retirees among their state government employees.

The seven states taking this Janus-like approach are Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska and Nevada. They were among the 2,000-some employers approved across the country for the first round of the Affordable Care Act's Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Once fully implemented, the program could potentially help hundreds of thousands of Americans--ages 55 to 64, too young for Medicare--retain the early retiree coverage from their employers. The program provides an 80 percent subsidy for retiree claims between $15,000 and $90,000.

The approved applications represent nearly every sector of the economy: 32 percent of applications came from businesses, 26 percent from State and local governments, 22 percent from union sponsors, 14 percent from schools and other educational institutions, and 5 percent from non profits. More than half of Fortune 500 companies submitted applications.

The early retiree health benefit was created by the Affordable Care Act as a bridge to the new health insurance Exchanges in 2014. Businesses and other employers and unions that are accepted into the program will receive reimbursement for medical claims for early retirees and their spouses, surviving spouses, and dependents. The program ends on January 1, 2014 when State health insurance Exchanges will be up and running.

Critics say the program is underfunded, the Hill reports. The $5 billion set aside for the fund could run out in 2012.

To learn more:
- read the HHS press release
- see this list of approved applications by state
- read The Hill’s article
- here's the Associated Press article