Frary: Obamacare in Maine

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verso-paper

“RE: Changes to the 2014 Verso Health Benefits Program,” a memo sent to all employees of Verso Paper from Kenny D. Sawyer, V.P. Human Resources.

The VP explains “…our benefits team has worked closely with our health care providers to mitigate increased costs…” of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Let’s savor that phrase for a moment—“mitigate increased costs.”

Here are some other key phrases in the document:
“…implement a resulting premium increase…”
“…decreasing our health care offerings…”
“…co-insurance payments will be adjusted from 90% to 80%…”
“…increase in out-of-pocket maximums…”
“…you will see a premium increase around 3.5%…”

In summary, for Verso Paper employees Obamacare means increases and decreases. The increases are all about their cost; the decreases are all about their coverage. On another front, NBC News tells us that Loren Goodridge, who owns 21 Subway franchises, including one in Kennebunk, is cutting hours for 50 workers to no more than 29 hours a week to avoid triggering the Obamacare provision mandating health insurance coverage to employees who work 30 hours or more per week. Mr. Goodridge has this to say: “To tell somebody that you’ve got to decrease their hours because of a law passed in Washington is very frustrating to me.”

The TV network reports the Subway magnate’s experience as typical “Employers around the country, from fast-food franchises to colleges, have told NBC News that they will be cutting workers’ hours below 30 a week because they can’t afford to offer the health insurance mandated by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.”

Joseph Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) has this to say: “You’ll see tremendous impact as workers have their hours reduced and their incomes reduced. The facts are already starting to show up.”

Hansen, along with the Teamsters, and UNITE-HERE presidents have sent a letter to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi which begins: “When you and the President sought our support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat. Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

The UFCW claims 1.2 million members including those in Local 791, which covers Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. UNITE HERE represents 251,000 workers in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, and airport industries throughout the U.S. and Canada, including members of Locals 406 in Saco and 486 in Bangor. The Teamsters claim 1.4 members, including those in Local 340 in Portland.

Jason Furman, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors, dismisses all such “anecdotal evidence.” He sees “no systematic evidence that the Affordable Care Act is having an adverse impact on job growth or the number of hours employees are working. … “ He boldly asserts that “nearly 90 percent of the gain in employment has been in full-time positions.”

In contrast Keith Hall, a senior researcher at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, reports that “Over the last six months, of the net job creation, 97 percent of that is part-time work,” The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Household Survey shows 963,000 more people reporting that they were employed, and 936,000 of them reported they’re in part-time jobs. Hall ran the US Department of Labor’s BLS, which puts out monthly job reports, from 2008 to 2012.

Who to believe? I’m taking no position other than to suggest that readers ask around among businessmen they know. There’s a point when anecdotal evidence (a.k.a., “experience”) grows to a volume that transform it into data.

Professor John Frary of Farmington, Maine is a former US Congress candidate and retired history professor, a Board Member of Maine Taxpayers United and publisher of www.fraryhomecompanion.com and can be reached at: jfrary8070@aol.com

16 COMMENTS

  1. Health care costs for providers are rising rapidly in several areas:
    o Their reimbursements for services are being reduced;.
    o The coverage for their clients is being reduced and DSM categories previously covered are being eliminated;.
    o There has been a dramatic increase in regulatory paperwork under ACA that is not compensated by reimbursements.
    o There own costs of health care have also risen, as any provider who’s been shopping for health insurance will testify to.

    So providers are paid less; paid for fewer diagnostic categories; have their regulatory paperwork burden increased; and are paying more for health insurance which is more restrictive.

    Long gone are the cherished Health Savings Accounts which were used for a lot of preventive health care options, including club memberships and exercise groups.

    As the health care gulag descends upon America’s health care community, discontent and dissatisfaction breeds.
    p.s. Bloomberg reports are national aggregates; irrelevant to Maine but handy for apologists.

  2. Hi!

    Obamacare is so nice, isn’t it?

    1. Employee hours will be cut.
    2. Premiums going up.
    3. Services going down otherwise known as rationing.
    4. Co-pay going up.
    5. No privacy between doctors and patients.
    6. Rationing particularly for the elderly; the cemeteries will fill up.

    How nice!

    Suggestion: Be actively involved in your own healthcare by using prevention.
    techniques; eat right and exercise, have a positive attitude, be.
    active, etc.

    Attempt to “stay out” of the system as much as possible. You won’t
    like what is being offered which is “not much.”

    Thank you!

    Lise from Maine.

  3. As a mother of two recent college graduates, I worry for my kids futures , along with everyone else’s. I can’t imagine being young and full of enthusiasm and then to have to consider this. Definitely not an incentive.

  4. Some typical Republican Response – like the poll recently taken in Louisiana asking if President Obama or Bush was more to blame for the poor federal response after Hurricane Katrina. “29 percent of Louisiana Republicans say President Obama is more to blame for the botched executive branch response to Hurricane Katrina while just 28 percent blamed George W. Bush. A plurality of 44 percent said they were unsure who was more responsible, even though Hurricane Katrina occurred over three years before Obama entered the presidency when he was still a freshman Senator.” – See – http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2013/08/21/2503281/louisiana-republicans-blame-president-obama-katrina-response/

  5. “And we are here as on a darkling plain.
    Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
    Where ignorant armies clash by night.”.

    We have to amend Matthew Arnold here. We don’t suffer so much from ignorance as from a superfluity of contending statistics which cripple public debate—what percentage of our voters ever really follow statistical debates? Events alone will decide whether the ACA fulfills its promises.

    At that point its defenders will explain how it accomplished objectives that were never claimed for it at its inception, e.g., the Obama stimulus did not actually reduce unemployment to the level promised, but it DID “save jobs.”.

  6. AS USUAL FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN IS THE BEST VWEAPON OF THE RIGHT! OF COURSE HATE AND A FEW SPEAKERS EDUCATED BEYOND THEIR INTELLIGENCE! HENCE THE LOFLO, THE PAID POSTER, THE DIRT BAG WATER BOY BUT ONE THING RINGS TRUE IN ALL OF THIS: ahh how soon the right forgets– their cry for battle! their so called surgical strikes that accounted for a 12 year war! but then did you ever meet a real republican that didn’t need a liberal to clean up his mess or make his daddy’s business work? I NEVER HAVE!

  7. HOW LONG DO YOU THINK YOU CAN KEEP THE AMERICAN WORKER IN BONDAGE? A CANADIAN MAKING THE SAME HOURLY WAGE WITH A GROSS PAY OF $600 HAS A $100 MORE IN HIS TAKE HOME PAY JUST BECAUSE OF PRIVATE INSURANCE COMPANIES OVER CHARGING!

  8. THE AVERAGE WESTERN NATIONS WORKERS HAVE MORE TIME OFF ,A CHEAPER HEALTH COVERAGE FOR THEI FAMILIES AND A BETTER RETIREMENT!
    THAT’S WHAT THE RIGHT IS TRYING TO PREVENT! and their ceo’s don’t make more than 500 times their employees!

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