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SEIU Wants More $ From MA Health Plan

From a context-free Boston Globe:

Health aid urged for low-wage workers

Advocates say wait until 2014 is unfair

By Kay Lazar, Globe Staff  |  June 20, 2010

Thousands of uninsured Massachusetts workers in low-wage jobs are ineligible for state-subsidized health coverage, but they will qualify for these low-cost plans under the new national health care overhaul — in 2014.

Now, some consumer advocates, arguing that the wait is unfair and a black eye for the state, want the Patrick administration and legislators to launch a program to cover at least part of this group.

And by “consumer advocates,” the Boston Globe means the SEIU, who represent the healthcare workers who would benefit from this further expansion.

Administration officials, already facing huge budget deficits, say the state can’t afford the tens of millions of dollars it would cost to subsidize additional workers’ insurance.

The state’s landmark 2006 health insurance law was a model for the national legislation passed in March and has reduced the percentage of uninsured to under 4 percent of adults. But it did little for full-time workers whose employer offers health insurance they cannot afford. The law bars them from getting lower-priced coverage through the state, even if their pay is below levels that would otherwise make them eligible for state assistance

The state doesn’t track how many uninsured work for companies that offer coverage, but the Urban Institute, a Washington-based think tank, estimates that as of last fall, there were 15,000 to 50,000 such people.

That ultra left Urban Institute. But, here we go again. Somehow there are always people who fall into the cracks.

Among them is Karen Cifuentes of Lynn, who said “it’s really unfair’’ that she will have to wait for low-cost coverage. She makes $11.50 an hour working full time as a receptionist at a car dealership, in addition to taking night college classes. By the time she pays the $450 monthly day-care bill for her 3-year-old daughter, plus a car loan and car insurance, there is little left over to afford the $150 monthly premium for health insurance at work, she said. So she goes without coverage, and tries not to get sick because she can’t afford that, either.

Maybe Ms. Cifuentes could not afford to have a child in the first place.

Under the state law, adults whose employers don’t offer coverage or who are out of work are eligible for state assistance with health insurance if they make less than three times the federal poverty level — which translates to $43,710 for a family of two, such as Cifuentes and her daughter. Cifuentes earns about $24,000

Ms. Cifuentes can’t afford $150 a month out (or $1,800 a year) of $24,000 a year? Her ‘earned income’ credit would problem exceed that amount.

Workers whose employers offer a health plan were blocked from state assistance because the law’s architects worried that too many companies and employees would drop that coverage, if low-income workers were allowed to get cheaper insurance through the Connector, the program that provides subsidized coverage

Connector Authority spokesman Richard Powers said state regulators had intended to evaluate a potential pilot program in 2008, but then the recession hit, and everything was put on hold

The Connector did not specifically estimate the cost of a pilot program, but officials believe the costs could escalate quickly because currently insured workers would shift to the cheaper state plans. In a June 2008 report, the Connector estimated that extending subsidized coverage to 50,000 working adults would have cost the state $50 million in the last fiscal year, even if employers helped defray the cost.

In 2014, when Cifuentes and thousands of other Massachusetts residents will be eligible for Connector coverage, the bill will largely be paid with federal money.

What a relief that will be. Then it will be ‘free.’

Connector board member Celia Wcislo, who also is an assistant director of a large health care workers union, the 1199 SEIU, said now that the economy is showing signs of picking up, the board should try a small pilot project to determine, among other things, how many workers who would be newly eligible for subsidized insurance would actually sign up.

“It would make sense to try a pilot now, to see what happens, and learn from it,’’ Wcislo said, “so we are ready by 2014 to open it up to everybody who is eligible.’’ …

In truth, this Boston Globe article is just a press release from Ms. Wcislo and the SEIU, who have been pushing this ‘healthcare’ expansion for years.

Indeed, this article is largely a regurgitation of Ms. Wcislo’s article, ‘Lessons learned to date from the Massachusetts Healthcare Reform,’ (a pdf file), which was published by the local 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) United Healthcare Workers East in August 2007.

As the article notes in passing, Celia Wcislo, is a Board Member of the Massachusetts Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority and the local SEIU’s Assistant Division Director.

From the local 1199 SEIU’s website:

Who We Are – 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

Representing more than 300,000 members and retirees in New York, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Massachusetts, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest Local union in the world.

We are a Union of healthcare workers. We work in the homecare, hospital and nursing home industries, as well as pharmacies, freestanding clinics and other healthcare settings. We care for the sick, the infirm, the elderly. Ours is noble work. We are dedicated to our patients, our members and our families.

The mission of our Union is to improve and expand quality patient care, to protect and improve the lives of our members and our families, and to work in solidarity with working people in our communities and around the world

Funny how the Boston Globe neglected to mention the SEIU’s conflict of interest here. It’s almost as if they don’t want their readers to know who is actually behind all of these so-called ‘healthcare reforms.’

But, as always, it turns out that the SEIU is the real ‘connector’ here.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, June 21st, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

One Response to “SEIU Wants More $ From MA Health Plan”

  1. GetBackJack says:

    Unions are blood sucking vampire ticks.

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