The progressive’s way to solve Obamacare problems: we’ll wish it away

Bob Horton’s weekly Greenwich Time column takes Peter Tesei to task for overstating the increased health insurance costs ObamaCare will impose on the town.

[ObamaCare] Tesei claimed, would cost the town an additional $30 million between now and 2019. He based his conclusions on a $7,000 study he commissioned from Brown & Brown, one of the nation’s largest insurance brokers.

I spoke Thursday with the report’s author, Dr. Joseph Fields, a former professor of insurance at the University of Connecticut who now works with Brown & Brown. The projected increases, he said, were based on studying town labor contracts and “on what we’ve been seeing in quotes from insurance carriers.”

“The projected price increases vary from carrier to carrier, and from town to town,” the former UConn professor said.

“I used conservative (high) estimates because it produces a number that is going to scare people a little bit,” he said.

There is nothing inherently wrong with using a conservative estimate of rising costs, but if you look at the underlying numbers that Tesei presented in defense of his claim, a full $19 million of the $30 million increase only comes into play in the last fiscal year, 2018-19. And it is not an insurance premium increase; it is a tax on so-called Cadillac plans, which means it is completely avoidable. Cadillac plans refer to expensive plans, like many found in the Northeast, where costs are higher than in the rest of the nation in general. Imposition of the tax was delayed until 2018 to provide enough time to find solutions to avoid the tax hit.

A couple of points here: if $19 million hits later, then $11 million hits sooner – goodbye forever, Byram pool. That’s no loss, except to Bob and Fudrucker, but Horton’s second claim, that the charge on expensive insurance plans “is not a premium increase, it’s a tax, which means it’s completely avoidable” is so silly that only a Democrat could write it, let alone believe it. The tax – a 35% surcharge, will apply to any plan costing more than $10,000 for an individual and $27,000 for a family. I have no idea what Greenwich is paying for its employees’ coverage but I know that I pay $1,000 a month for a plan that covers nothing except the postage to send me denial of claim letters. That’s not a Cadillac that’s a Yugo, yet Obama and Horton want to whack me with a surcharge.

The Cadillac tax is going to hit almost everyone in the Northeast, especially towns like ours with generous employee policies. Even The New York Times acknowledged this as far back as 2009 when the Messiah was just warming up, but seems to have forgotten its warning as time went on.

“Completely avoidable” how, Bob? By reducing health benefits for town workers? Fine by me, but I anticipate a certain resistance on their part. Lowering health care costs across the northeast by having Elizabeth Warren conduct a special campfire dance? Already these costs which were projected by Obama to fall $2,500 this year have increased by that amount. Here’s news: you can’t increase benefits without paying for them. Who’d have guessed?

So Horton looks at a $30 million dollar increase in the town’s insurance costs, dismisses $11 million as not worth bothering about, figures we don’t have to worry about the rest for four or five years and by that time, some secret, undisclosed plan to easily avoid those costs will have surfaced. I don’t understand why Fudrucker hasn’t recruited Bob to run for public office – he’d fit in beautifully with the boys in Hartford.

7 Comments

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7 responses to “The progressive’s way to solve Obamacare problems: we’ll wish it away

  1. anonymous

    No pool in Byram? Where are they supposed to take a bath?

  2. Balzac

    Do you live in Greenwich? Bob Horton is happy to spend your money. He’s not worried about the future of Town finances. He’s also eager for the Town to borrow money, which you the stupid taxpayer can repay another day. When Bob Horton takes a day off, Alma Rutgers trots out the same unthinking emotions.

    Bob! Alma! Recently there has been a debt-and-spending crisis. You might have seen it: Greece, Connecticut, the US government, Europe, Spain, Iceland, Italy, California……

    WAKE UP!

  3. AndyD

    I was under the assumption the tax on “Cadillac” health insurance premiums didn’t apply to those that were the result of collective bargaining, as most of our town employees are. Otherwise it would hit virtually every single GM worker in the country and many, many other unions.

    Maybe another one of your readers has additional information.

    • Well you have to read it to know what’s in it! Pelosi now claims she’s plowed through all 2,700 pages of it, a dubious claim but one which, if true, distinguishes her from 99.9999% of her fellow Americans.
      But no, the tax applies to unions – they think, according to one union leader quoted in the article I linked to, they’ll make it up on the pre-existng illness provision, but I suspect that leader and his leadees will be bitterly disappointed.

  4. Georgie

    Chris, this is one of your best (and funniest) analysis of a real situation.

    I guess we will never see the day when Horton simply acknowledges that current and former First Selectman (who are indeed the CHIEF negotiators of labor union agreements) have made over generous promises to employees based on an ever increasing GDP growth.

    I have read that Town employees across the country do indeed have “cadillac” coverage (versus skimpy Yugo coverage)—and for their spouses, too. And lifetime!

    Those overly rich lifetime health care and pension benefits are coming back to bite the Town in today’s operating and capital spending. As you say, good bye to a Town pool (or a renovated Eastern civic center or a new hockey rink…and well maintained schools) to pay for these promises to active and retired employees.

    Guess what….every pol in the country did the same in order to get elected. Nothing like the reliable police, fire, teacher votes—Republican or Democrat.

    Productivity improvements are basically non-existent in local governments. Visit the central office of Education or Town Hall and you will see business done practically the same way from 20-30 years ago. Let us recall the IT fiasco where they “lost” all the backup data (that wasn’t done nightly as any organization does) and had to hire temps to hand input back what was lost. How 1980’s. Productivity in this Town is a joke.

  5. Georgie

    AndyD…where have you read that unions are exempt from the penalty?

    Read the fine print…Baucus thought the penalty would pay for the newly 30 million covered individuals in the system with a tax on issuers giving too rich of a health coverage.

    What you may be thinking is that bit-by-bit Obama has exempted many employers—with lots of union workers—from the tax.

    Our Town employees, active and retired, and spouses, have health coverage that would be the envy of most of us.

    In fairness to the unions, these politicians orchestrated this by appearing to offer “low wages” but throwing all kinds of benefits in lifetime health care and retirement benefits to keep the unions happy.

    And, now the famous “can” has hit a wall.