Charles and David Koch may have spent millions of dollars opposing President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, but that didn’t stop them from benefiting from the law. The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that Koch Industries received $1.4 million in subsidies from a $5 billion program established by the Affordable Care Act to help employers and states maintain coverage for individuals 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare.
ThinkProgress first noticed that Koch applied for the program in August of 2010, along with other critics of the law, including state-run programs in Texas and more than a dozen members of the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has spent millions to support Republican causes.
Ironically, in 2011, House Republicans issued a press release characterizing the early retiree grants as “a $5 billion bailout fund for state governments, Fortune 500 companies, and Hollywood unions.” “Like many provisions and accounting gimmicks in the health care law, it has largely escaped public scrutiny because of the sheer volume of programs and spending crammed into the law without scrutiny or Congressional oversight,” the Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee wrote a year after Koch and other prominent funders applied and received grants from the program.
The Early Retiree provision resembles one passed by Republicans in 2003, which gave subsidies to employers who offered drug coverage to their retirees before the Medicare Part D program went into effect in 2006. As the New York Times explained, the goal then was the same as it is today, “to discourage those employers from terminating those programs, which would have saddled the government and seniors with higher costs.”
This isn’t the first time critics of the law have taken advantage of its provisions. Just last week, Republican members of Congress praised the Obama administration for keeping open a call center dedicated to enrolling people into the law after the initial enrollment period, while others have requested grants funded under the ACA. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) even encouraged some Texans to sign-up for coverage in the federally-run health care exchange in an effort to save the state money.