TOPEKA — Twenty-two Kansas employers and unions, including Koch Industries, have accepted money from the health care act to cover early retirees.
The $5 billion Early Retiree Reinsurance Program is intended to help maintain health coverage for retirees 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare. The program is part of the federal health care reform act and will expire Jan. 1, 2014, when the new state health insurance exchanges are established.
"Many Americans who retire before they are eligible for Medicare see their life savings disappear because of medical bills and exorbitant rates in the individual health insurance market," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a written statement.
The Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight has approved nearly 2,000 businesses and unions nationwide in the program's first round of applications.
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Starting in September, approved applicants can begin submitting claims dating to June 1, 2010, and, starting in October, approved applicants will receive reinsurance payments on those claims, the department said in its release.
In Kansas, the businesses and unions are:
Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc.; BAC Local Union 15 Welfare Fund; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Inc.; Boilermakers National Health and Welfare Fund; Cement Masons & Plasterers Local 518 Health Care Fund; City of Lawrence; City of Leawood; City of Overland Park; Kansas Construction Industry Laborers Welfare Fund; Greater Kansas City Laborers Welfare Fund; IBEW Local Union No. 226 Open End Health and Welfare Trust Fund; International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers; Kansas Building Trades Open End Health and Welfare Fund; Koch Industries Inc.; Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry Health and Welfare Fund; Sprint Nextel Corp.; Unified School District No. 500; Unified School District No. 232; Waddell & Reed Inc.; Water District No. 1 of Johnson County; Westar Energy; Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp.