Thursday, December 27, 2007

MAINTAINING CRITICALLY IMPORTANT HEALTH BENEFITS--BY ENDING THEM

December 27, 2007

U.S. Ruling Backs Benefit Cut at 65 in Retiree Plans



WASHINGTON — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Wednesday that employers could reduce or eliminate health benefits for retirees when they turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare.
The policy, set forth in a new regulation, allows employers to establish two classes of retirees, with more comprehensive benefits for those under 65 and more limited benefits — or none at all — for those older.
More than 10 million retirees rely on employer-sponsored health plans as a primary source of coverage or as a supplement to Medicare, and Naomi C. Earp, the commission’s chairwoman, said, “This rule will help employers continue to voluntarily provide and maintain these critically important health benefits.”
. . . In general, the commission observed, employers are not required by federal law to provide health benefits to either active or retired workers.
Dianna B. Johnston, a lawyer for the commission, said many employers and labor unions had told it that “if they had to provide identical benefits for retirees under 65 and over 65, they would just drop retiree health benefits altogether for both groups.”
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Wow!
The commission, by contrast, said that under that law, it could establish “such reasonable exemptions” as it might find “necessary and proper in the public interest.”

Well, I ask you, what could possibly be more in the public interest than cutting loose 10-15 million people from their health insurance coverage? Nice work, Naomi.
Just like namesake Wyatt, Naomi Earp (chairman of the commission) pretty much single-handedly shot health care out of the saddle and is now blowing the smoke off the end of her six-shooter.
And I am in favor. Not because it is fair or even equitable to cut the intra-venous life support of medical care to a bunch of old folks, but because I believe it will hurry the decades-late decision to provide single-payer national health care.
No one can afford where we have chosen to direct our health care expense:
  • not the uninsured
  • not the company programs
And certainly not the tax payers who support the world's most costly, least effective on a dollar-benefits ratio insurance system. The only current winners are those who bring nothing to the table, yet eat first and leave the public the crumbs; i.e. the insurance, hospital, equipment rental and pharmaceutical industries.

* For more in-depth articles by Jim on Health Care, check out Opinion-Columns.com