As we watch Republicans gear up for their “repeal and replace” effort after the historic Affordable Care Act (ACA) decision by the Supreme Court, it seems worth mentioning that some of Ohio’s biggest employers – including many big Republican donors and detractors of “Obamacare” – have also been some of the biggest beneficiaries of the ACA.
One of the programs directly responsible for helping employers is the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP). The program is aimed at employers who are dealing with rising health care costs with the goal of helping them to remain “competitive in the global marketplace.” To accomplish this goal, the program is set up to provide “$5 billion in financial assistance to employers and unions to help them maintain coverage for early retirees age 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare.”
A current list of businesses, other employers, and unions from Ohio that have been accepted into the program is available here. A quick look at the list shows some interesting results.
The Dispatch, for example, has written again and again about the Affordable Care Act and how it is “dreadful public policy”. Yet the Dispatch Printing Company received $361,653 in funds from the ERRP.
Back in September, Robert Murray, owner of Murray Energy, claimed “President Barack Hussein Obama is the greatest threat to the economy of the State of Ohio and this country”. Murray’s Ohio Valley Coal Company received $299,987.
In 2010, FirstEnergy gave over $500,949 to Republicans, including over $11K to Kasich/Taylor. This year they’ve already donated almost $300k to the GOP as they continue their fight to repeal the ACA. FirstEnergy has received $6.13 MILLION dollars.
The Timken company is such an important Republican donor that John Boehner personally helped gerrymander Ohio’s new 16th congressional district so the company’s HQ remained in Republican Jim Renacci’s district. Employees and owners of the Timken company have given Kasich/Taylor over $65K and Mary Taylor’s previous campaigns have previously received over $23K from the same people. The Timken Company has received nearly 5.4 Million dollars from the ACA’s Early Retiree Reinsurance Program despite directly funding candidates and office holders who are fighting to repeal the program.
While we’re on the topic of Kasich and Taylor, in a call today LG Taylor made is pretty clear that she and Kasich will be toeing the party line on the ACA. According to Taylor, “best solution to repeal Obamacare … is for a new White House and new Congress who will do that.” It seems Taylor’s big reason for opposing the exchanges is the supposed additional costs to the state. We’ll deal with this in detail in an upcoming post on the health care exchanges, but I think it’s sufficient to say she’s not telling the whole story.
Kasich and Taylor will continue to push back against the ACA for purely political reasons, but one thing you won’t hear them talking about on the next conference call is the enormous benefit the ACA’s ERRP has provided to our State’s companies or to the public retirement and pension systems. The Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio (PERS) has alone received over $180 million from the ERRP. The State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio has received nearly $80 million and the The Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund has received almost $17 million.
Ohio’s Republicans will continue trying to convince you that the Affordable Care Act will bankrupt the state and hurt Ohio’s companies and citizens. But the facts just aren’t on their side.