Milwaukee County sees ObamaCare as an escape route

posted at 4:41 pm on October 1, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Remember how public-employee unions in Wisconsin howled when the legislature and Governor Scott Walker proposed and implemented reforms that took benefit packages off the table in union negotiations, allowing the state to get out of the union’s own WEA Trust cash-shifting monstrosity and achieve real savings? At least Walker and the Republicans planned to keep offering those benefits while keeping the unions from inflating costs to build their own coffers. Now, Milwaukee County executive Chris Abele wants to dump all 4400 public employees out of their health-insurance plans to push them into ObamaCare exchanges, in order to save $10 million a year:

Milwaukee County would end health insurance coverage for some or all of its 4,400 employees and instead provide a subsidy toward individual coverage purchased through the new federal exchanges, under an idea floated in County Executive Chris Abele’s 2014 budget.

The shift could save the county at least $10 million a year, according to an estimate included in Abele’s budget, which must be approved by the County Board. But that estimate is based on hypothetical figures, not the actual cost of health plans that will be available in the Milwaukee marketplace.

The exchanges are a key part of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. The online marketplace for Wisconsin begins enrolling people Tuesday.

The idea was based on advice given to Abele by David Riemer, senior fellow at Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, a local anti-poverty agency.

Whether the complicated idea would work is still up in the air, Riemer said in an interview. It needs a more thorough vetting and could take longer than a year to work out, he said. Among the questions is how the proposal could be implemented without county workers having to pay taxes on the money given them to buy a health plan on the exchange.

Why, those dastardly Wisconsin Republicans — attacking PEU members and their benefits packages again! Er … not quite.  Although the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel never gets around to mentioning this fact, Abele is a Democrat.  In fact, after Abele claimed not to have been a partisan during his candidacy for his current job in January 2011, Politifact Wisconsin begged to differ:

The long paper trail left by Abele’s personal campaign donations since 2000 leaves no doubt he is a very loyal Democrat.

He has given heavily to Democratic Party office-seekers here and around the country, to the Democratic Party itself and in 2002 was on the campaign finance committee for Jim Doyle in his first race for governor.

He has plugged funds into key state legislative contests outside Milwaukee that were important for determining the balance of power in Madison. Among the recipients closer to home: Pedro Colon, Lena Taylor, Sheldon Wasserman and Jim Sullivan — now a foe in the exec’s race.

His federal donations have helped Wisconsin congressional candidates Russ Feingold, Dave Obey, Steve Kagen and Tammy Baldwin, as well as Paul Wellstone of Minnesota and Michael Bennet of Colorado.

In 2004, Abele lined up attendees at a Ted Kennedy fundraiser for John Kerry’s presidential bid. And in 2008, Barack Obama got a check.

All right, enough of Name That Party.  What about the proposal?  Abele may be right about saving millions of dollars, but he used models based on costs in other states to generate the $10 million figure. Still, it appears that Abele sees the same cost dynamics in play that have prompted Walgreens and Darden Restaurants to push employees into private exchanges. The difference between the two is that taxpayers will be subsidizing these public employees in the exchanges, both through the extra compensation offered from the county and in the ObamaCare subsidies in the exchanges themselves.

This raises two issues, both of which have large import on the fiscal underpinnings of ObamaCare. If Milwaukee County sees an advantage in dumping employees, even with the risk of the unions’ wrath, then private-sector employers will quickly see the same advantage and start dumping employees into the system, too.  That will cause subsidy costs to explode much faster than the White House and the CBO predicted under its assumptions that competitive pressure would force employers to retain health-insurance benefits, and the entire financial structure of ObamaCare will rapidly sink into a deep ocean of red ink.

This also has a big impact on public-sector management policy.  With most jurisdictions already facing nightmares in dealing with pension obligations — including health-insurance coverage — will ObamaCare be a de facto government bailout? Don’t expect Milwaukee County to be the only jurisdiction looking to take advantage of federal support on health-care costs via these exchanges.

 


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Don’t expect Milwaukee County to be the only jurisdiction looking to take advantage of federal support on health-care costs via these exchanges.

“Unexpected” death spiral?

oldroy on October 1, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Expunge the leeches!

RovesChins on October 1, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Democrats = The TEAT Party

Resist We Much on October 1, 2013 at 4:49 PM

The radio shows are blasting this.

Schadenfreude on October 1, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Cloward-Piven in reverse…

PatriotRider on October 1, 2013 at 4:50 PM

Democrats = The TEAT Party

Resist We Much on October 1, 2013 at 4:49 PM

…sucking on the already dead national cow.

They always feed on carrion.

Schadenfreude on October 1, 2013 at 4:50 PM

Dumping union members onto a sh!t plan their leadership fully supported…priceless…

PatriotRider on October 1, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Could not be happening to finer bunch of cockroaches…

PatriotRider on October 1, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Could not be happening to finer bunch of cockroaches…

PatriotRider on October 1, 2013 at 4:53 PM

That is an insult….

oldroy on October 1, 2013 at 4:54 PM

That was the plan. Soon virtually everybody will find Obamacare as the “escape route.” Insurance companies will go under. Single payer will become the inevitable only option. In the future we are going to need to campaign on “uprooting” Obamacare because “repealing” isn’t going to be enough any more.

anotherJoe on October 1, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Dump them onto the exchanges and don’t “give them” a subsidy check…and let’s see how they like it..

PatriotRider on October 1, 2013 at 4:55 PM

That will cause subsidy costs to explode much faster than the White House and the CBO predicted under its assumptions that competitive pressure would force employers to retain health-insurance benefits, and the entire financial structure of ObamaCare will rapidly sink into a deep ocean of red ink.

Like they care.

WisRich on October 1, 2013 at 4:55 PM

It’s called two things:

Taking one for the team

or

The walk of shame.

It all depends on who’s paying attention…

patman77 on October 1, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Shift all the unions onto ObamaCare and then repeal ObamaCare, is that the plan? Okay, maybe I’m dreaming.

Fenris on October 1, 2013 at 4:58 PM

Democrats = The TEAT Party

Resist We Much on October 1, 2013 at 4:49 PM

They are boobs.

Schadenfreude on October 1, 2013 at 5:00 PM

They will all have fun even trying to sign up with ObamaCare…..

There will be a lot of pissed of Republicans AND Democrats over the next month
when the Obama Train they are on crashes and burns.

redguy on October 1, 2013 at 5:01 PM

Milwaukee County government is a three-ring circus:

- Possibly the only Rat (though not officially affiliated with them because his office is officially nonpartisan) who doesn’t want to jack up taxes all that much in Abele.

- A county board who is as free-spending as the one that jammed us with the million-dollar-per-person pension payouts in 2000.

- A sheriff who is nominally a Rat because the office is partisan and up until last year was the beneficiary of the straight-party-line vote, who the real Rats just can’t quite get out of office.

Steve Eggleston on October 1, 2013 at 5:01 PM

Could not be happening to finer bunch of cockroaches…

PatriotRider on October 1, 2013 at 4:53 PM

That is an insult….

oldroy on October 1, 2013 at 4:54 PM

I know…I’m sorry to all the CR’s out there…

PatriotRider on October 1, 2013 at 5:01 PM

1984:

The federal government wants to reduce the number of Americans diagnosed each year with cancer. But not by better preventive care or healthier living. Instead, the government wants to redefinethe term “cancer” so that fewer conditions qualify as a true cancer.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulhsieh/2013/09/29/why-the-federal-government-wants-to-redefine-the-word-cancer/?utm_content=buffere4304&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer

davidk on October 1, 2013 at 5:02 PM

Oh, did I mention the state parties in Wisconsin have no control over who runs under their banner?

Steve Eggleston on October 1, 2013 at 5:03 PM

This is a champagne problem!
Kathleen “Reaper” Sebelious

jukin3 on October 1, 2013 at 5:05 PM

The new civility: Dems turn public debate into schoolyard taunts

The “unhinged” caucus: 5 nasty names Democrats are calling Republicans

http://legalinsurrection.com/2013/10/66593/

davidk on October 1, 2013 at 5:07 PM

unexpected? I predicted our liberal lesbian mermaid mayor wrote off the unfunded post employment retirees health care into into Obamacare 6 months ago. I bet she was counting on the $2,500 premium break too.

DanMan on October 1, 2013 at 5:16 PM

I see a LOT of this coming down the pike, in state, county and city governments, and their retired employees as well.

slickwillie2001 on October 1, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Whether the quality of care in the new market is comparable to private offerings remains to be seen. But one thing is clear: The cost of care in the new market doesn’t stack up. A single wage earner must make less than $20,000 to see his or her current premiums drop or stay the same under Obamacare, an independent review by National Journal found. That’s equivalent to approximately 34 percent of all single workers in the U.S. seeing any benefit in the new system. For those seeking family-of-four coverage under the ACA, about 43 percent will see cost savings. Families must earn less than or equal to $62,300, or they, too, will be looking at a bigger bill.

Those numbers include the generous tax subsidies designed to make the new system more attractive to consumers.

“In 16 states that HHS studied, premiums were on average almost 20% lower than what the Congressional Budget Office projected,” Peters wrote in an e-mail.

Premiums may be lower than predicted, but they’re not competitive with what workers are now paying for employer-sponsored care.

On average, a worker paid between $862 and $1,065 per year for single coverage in 2013, according to Kaiser’s numbers. For the average family plan, defined as a family of four, insurance cost between $4,226 and $5,284.

Fewer than half of all families and only a third of single workers would qualify for enough Obamacare tax subsidies to pay within or below those averages next year.

Resist We Much on October 1, 2013 at 5:27 PM

Insurance is a product that can be easily created or destroyed. A prolonged O-care crash will kill a few off a few insurers who only do health insurance but the multi-product companies can come and go in the market place. If O-care crashes single payer is not the only option. I would bet that even if single payer arrives that insurance companies would sell policies that pay for all or part of medical tourism. Such policies already exist in Canada.

jerryofva on October 1, 2013 at 5:37 PM

Democrats = The TEAT Party
Resist We Much on October 1, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Bravo! I don’t think anyone can argue with that..

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on October 1, 2013 at 5:37 PM

White House and the CBO predicted under its assumptions that competitive pressure would force employers to retain health-insurance benefits

Not if your competitor drops coverage in order to save on costs.

GarandFan on October 1, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Hey Dems!

O-care is like playing that fun board game..”Mousetrap”…..

with 3 parts missing.

LOL!

KirknBurker on October 1, 2013 at 5:40 PM

The unions all campaigned for ChoomCare, so it’s only fitting that they reap the benefits.

RoadRunner on October 1, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Steve Eggleston on October 1, 2013 at 5:01 PM

Steve, I dont think Clark is as big of a liberal as you think. This is the same guy who made adds telling people to pack because you dont know how long it will be before the cops show up…

watertown on October 1, 2013 at 5:50 PM

Unions are like….daycare facilities for unfunctional adults.

Oh, this Abele proposal totally trumps the union exemption from ObamaCare.

Not only do the unions not have to participate in ObamaCare, now they won’t have to provide benefits at all.

1. ObamaCare
2. ???
3. Win!

BobMbx on October 1, 2013 at 5:51 PM

Steve, I dont think Clark is as big of a liberal as you think. This is the same guy who made adds telling people to pack because you dont know how long it will be before the cops show up…

watertown on October 1, 2013 at 5:50 PM

Why do you think I said “nominally a Rat”? If one looks up Democrat-In-Name-Only in the dictionary, it says, “Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke”.

Steve Eggleston on October 1, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Much lengthier thoughts up in the Green Room </promotion_self>

Maybe I should dust off No Runny Eggs ;-)

Steve Eggleston on October 1, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Maybe I should dust off No Runny Eggs ;-)

Steve Eggleston on October 1, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Excuse the (cough) dust (cough…hack…achoo!)

Steve Eggleston on October 1, 2013 at 7:03 PM

Ha haaaa, this is part of owning it PEU and democrats. Take a big bite of the $h!t sandwich obummer made for you.

jake49 on October 1, 2013 at 7:14 PM

1984:

The federal government wants to reduce the number of Americans diagnosed each year with cancer. But not by better preventive care or healthier living. Instead, the government wants to redefine the term “cancer” so that fewer conditions qualify as a true cancer.(link)
davidk on October 1, 2013 at 5:02 PM

Why not — the politicians have already redefined just about everything else.

AesopFan on October 1, 2013 at 9:57 PM

Something is fishy here. Remember when Trumpka and some of his union cohorts went to visit dear leader at the WH and supposedly came up empty handed? What did the Won promise those guys to get them to leave so quietly? Gotta be some big time pocket lining to turn them on their brothers and sisters so quietly.

Kissmygrits on October 2, 2013 at 9:08 AM