Before Thanksgiving, Organizing for America urged ObamaCare advocates to have “the talk” with family members over the holiday dinner table. “The talk” was supposed to urge activists to push their relatives into the ObamaCare exchanges over the weekend, which were, er, not working for much of that time. Today, the editorial board of The Oregonian urges school boards to start having “the talk” with teachers and the state to do so with other public-employee union members, but it’s a much different kind of talk than OFA wants them to hear:
Oregon school boards that don’t start adapting to the new federal rules now – and talking with employees and the public about the trade-offs – could be exposing their districts and students to new cuts and instability.
The Affordable Care Act, aka. Obamacare, requires employers with 50 or more workers to offer health insurance to employees who work a certain number of hours. The first phase of this law, now underway, requires employers and insurers to offer health plans that meet minimum standards. The next phase will involve penalizing employers whose health plans exceed maximum standards.
That penalty is called the “Cadillac tax,” an excise tax on annual insurance benefits that exceed $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. It will go into effect in 2018. Public employees, who tend to have better health plans than private-sector employees, are most likely to be affected.
The looming Cadillac tax and other mandates explain why the subject of federal health care reform can make Oregon school board members look like they’ve recently tasted a bad egg. First, they may need to adapt to the new coverage requirements for part-time staff, ideally without making cuts to the classroom. Next, they get to talk with teachers about trimming their health benefits, which may soon be stamped with a Too Generous label and slapped with a hefty penalty by the federal government.
Remember President Obama’s now-legendary promise that if you like your health plan, you can keep it? Another wave of people in Oregon will soon be learning the limits of that promise.
Don’t forget that as of last week, the number of people enrolled in Oregon’s state ObamaCare exchange was exactly zero. In fact, that’s still the number, because Oregon’s web portal won’t accept enrollments until the middle of this month, at least. This is a lot of disaster for no progress at all.
So what will “the talk” communicate to these PEU members? Districts will have to switch to plans with higher deductibles and premiums, as well as augment them with HSAs and other measures to slow down spending on health-care services. This will come as a shock to many of the rank-and-file members who saw their union dues get used to promote ObamaCare and boost the fortunes of Democrats who insisted on pushing it despite widespread opposition. Perhaps that’s a shock that is long since past due.
The editorial board at The Oregonian concludes with this statement:
Embracing the popular parts of Obamacare was easy. This is the hard part.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you.