Businesses and states opposing the Affordable Care Act continue to benefit from it, the Associated Press’ Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar reports, and have applied for and received grants from the early retiree benefit program. The $5 billion fund established by the new health care law is designed to help employers and states “maintain coverage for early retirees age 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare” by paying 80 percent of their claims:
Two Texas public employee programs are among the top 25 recipients of the federal subsidy despite Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s opposition to the law Republicans derisively call “Obamacare.” And records show the Huntsman family business, where GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman sharpened his executive skills, received about $1 million. It highlights the gap between dire Republican rhetoric about the health care overhaul and the pragmatic impulse to cash in on a new government benefit. [...]
The Teacher Retirement System of Texas, a statewide system for public education employees, received more than $70 million as of Sept. 22, according to the federal Health and Human Services Department. The Employees Retirement System of Texas, which covers state employees, received about $30 million. Huntsman International, the main operating subsidiary of the family-founded chemical conglomerate, is also collecting subsidies.
Indeed, ThinkProgress has previously reported that Koch Industries, the oil, chemicals, and manufacturing conglomerate that has spent millions of dollars opposing reform also received grant dollars from it, as did more than a dozen members of the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Since approving some 6,000 applicants, the early retiree program has since reached its limit and has stopped accepting new applications.