published Friday, May 2nd, 2014

And another thing ... Employer health care future; progressive passion

Like Your Health Insurance?

A new report by S&P Capital IQ, a research firm serving the financial industry, indicates that by 2020 about 90 percent of American workers who now receive employer health insurance will be shifted to government exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

How many who didn't think the ACA was a good idea in the first place knew this was coming? Good. Go to the head of the class.

Despite President Barack's Obama repeated statements about keeping your health insurance, your personal health insurance not increasing in price and the ACA not being a stalking horse for full government-run health insurance, a single-payer system always was the administration's goal.

The scope and speed of the shift to government insurance exchanges and the amount of money the companies could save, though, are surprising, according to a report by New York Times senior economic correspondent Neil Irwin.

S&P researchers concluded the shift could save the biggest American companies as much as $700 billion between 2016 and 2025, or about 4 percent of their total value. For all companies with more than 50 employees, the total would soar to $3.25 trillion.

On the surface, why wouldn't companies do it?

Since federal and state exchanges exist so that anyone, even those with pre-existing illnesses, can gain coverage, employers could just give workers a stipend to pay for health insurance with the exchanges rather than offer a plan themselves.

The idea parallels that of the defined-benefit pension plans in most companies being rolled into the likes of 401(k)s over the last 20-plus years, according to Michael G. Thompson, managing director at S&P. They cost companies less and are easier to administer.

"We still expect some companies to hold on to their health care plans, just as some private companies still have pensions," Thompson said in the New York Times report. "But we think that the tax incentives for employer-driven insurance are not enough to offset the incentives for companies to transition people over to exchanges and have them be more autonomous around management of their own health care."

In a perfect world, Irwin argues, an efficient ACA would provide better care at lower costs, but he says it's anyone's guess what the system -- which already endured a stunningly bad rollout -- will look like in, say, 2025. And whether costs not borne by employers would redound to the federal government, through insurance subsidies, or individuals paying more can't be known.

Still, he says such a shift is not a certainty because employees still put a value on health insurance plans, employers who don't offer them may lose a competitive advantage, employers who subsidize insurance plans directly receive a tax benefit from it (but lose it if they give workers extra pay to help them buy health insurance on an exchange), and because large employers who don't provide insurance must fork over an ACA-mandated, $2,000-per-worker annual penalty.

So, while the timing may be a bit hazy, the shift to what the Obama administration wanted is underway. Whether, or in what way, it can be stopped is up in the air.

Bring On The Progressives

A new Chattanooga area progressive -- meaning liberal -- political action committee will hold a kickoff meeting on May 7, and as bad as liberal government has been for the country over the last five years, the group could have a positive effect on politics in the area.

In next week's Hamilton County primary election, 17 offices up for grabs have either Republicans running unopposed or only Republicans opposing each other. Certainly, many of those Republicans deserve re-election or election, but principled opposition is never a bad thing. (Please see a review of our endorsements for contested primary races in Sunday's Perspective section.)

It sharpens the work of incumbents of both major parties if they are aware they will have serious opposition in elections, it forces candidates to refine their positions on the campaign trail rather than offer platitudes and promises, and it causes voters to think more carefully about their choices rather than simply darkening the oval by the "R" or the "D."

This new group, which plans to register as the New Guard PAC with the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, is to date composed primarily of young City Hall staffers, former Ochs Center employees and ex-campaign workers.

Members say they want to draw the kind of attention, enthusiasm and turnout to local elections as there are for national elections. That would be a good thing.

While New Guard PAC doesn't plan to field any candidates in this year's election cycle, it does plan to make endorsements in August's Hamilton County School Board races.

With progressives responsible nationally for many things in schools parents profess not to like -- stifling of religious references, lack of choice and union support of poor teachers, for instance -- whether some candidates will want such an endorsement remains to be seen.

15
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The editor said "stifling of religious references" in public schools.

What he more correctly said was, "The inability of Christian fundamentalists to proselytize about a Christian God and Jesus every time they possibly can."

Most people are simply tired of public schools being used to push Christian fundamentalism and the Bible as absolute truth, historical fact, and as science. It is none of the above.

To discuss Christianity, Judaism and Muslim faiths as historical relevancy is one thing, but you and I both know that's not the issue. You want fundamental christianity preached in public schools.

Here's a reminder for you.

"Religion is like a penis. It's fine to have one. It's fine to be proud of it. But please don't whip it out in public and start waving it around."

May 2, 2014 at 8:03 a.m.
aae1049 said...

Dear Mr. Editor,

You are not a conservative or Republican, you should join the local Dem Party. You are promoting a liberal agenda under a coating.

May 2, 2014 at 11:22 a.m.
aae1049 said...

Why can the TFP have strong and solid in Pam Sohn and Clay Bennett who lets their liberal freak flag fly, and all conservatives get is wishy washy positions from the right side of the TFP?

Conservatives deserve a strong conservative voice too.

May 2, 2014 at 12:13 p.m.

aae1049 wrote :"Why can the TFP have strong and solid in Pam Sohn and Clay Bennett who lets their liberal freak flag fly, and all conservatives get is wishy washy positions from the right side of the TFP?

Conservatives deserve a strong conservative voice too."

Too bad Fred Phelps is dead; he fits your side. Perhaps the TFP can hire Mr. Conservative, the rabid, hate-everything Tea Party fundamentalist christian clown that regularly posts here.

Or is Mr. Conservative too liberal for you? How about Mr. Orr? He's another rabid homophobe continuingly quoting Bible verses and is anti-science?

So many choices - so many Tea Party jokers.

May 2, 2014 at 12:32 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Like it or not, Tea Party members are conservatives, Republicans are conservatives, and they deserve a voice as strong as Pam Sohn and Clay Bennet, who promote the Dem agenda. We get wishy washy for a conservative perspective.

What would you know about conservative perspective allasdingbat

May 2, 2014 at 12:44 p.m.

"What would you know about conservative perspective allasdingbat (?)

Just the drivel I continually see from the Tea Partiers who post here, the Mike Huckabees, Jerry Falwells, the religious crazies, Fox News nuts, The OathKeepers, TV evangelists, Sarah Palin, Cruz, military/defense contractors, neo-cons, and snake-handlers.

Not all republicans are tea party fundamentalists. Seems that most republicans now consider the tea party the religious kiss-of-death.

As long as religious fundamentalists own the Tea Party, you'll never win a national election and will be lucky to elect a City Council member.

May 2, 2014 at 1 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Not all Dems are Obama liberal nuts either. So what?

The Editor has trashed CGAT local conservative pac comprised of Republican and Tea Party members, and pretty much endorsed a Liberal Pac. I do take issue with that. If you don't like it, too bad.

May 2, 2014 at 1:13 p.m.
conservative said...

aae1049

What passes for Conservatism today is comparison, not reality.

You call Republicans Conservative. I see only in comparison to Liberals which most often is Liberalism lite.

Do you know if Mr. Cooper is related to the Lesbian Cooper who was rightly thrown out of the local Church of Christ?

May 2, 2014 at 1:32 p.m.

Mr. Conservative is the Tea Party.

Let's see Mr. Conservative, what your fellow Christian, Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party had to say about homosexuals.

Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels made the party’s policy very clear on the night of May 6th 1933:

“We must exterminate these people root and branch; the homosexual must be eliminated.”

Sounds like you Mr. Conservative. You're a chip off the old swastika.

May 2, 2014 at 1:51 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Alla,

The local Tea Party is a huge organization comprised of dual Republication and soley Tea Party members.

Mr. Coopers constant insults on the local CGAT conservative pac and praise on a group of elite white and affluent people at the Ochs Center speaks volumes to local conservatives.

The Tea Party, Libertarians, and Republican Party deserve a voice at the TFP, just like the Pam Sohn provides for the liberals.

May 2, 2014 at 3:23 p.m.

"The Tea Party, Libertarians, and Republican Party deserve a voice at the TFP."

Lumping those three groups together shows your political naivete, but that's to be expected from the religious Tea Party fundamentalists.

When the Tea Party was taken over by the Christian religious fundamentalist crazies it lost support from libertarians and regular republicans.

When Rand Paul embraced the religious right and Christian extremists, he lost libertarian support. Rand Paul is not Ron Paul and libertarians know that.

Now the Tea Party spins its wheels trying to out-Jesus everyone else and it's not working.

As I said the Tea Party is as relevant in national elections as Sarah Palin is in a geography class.

May 2, 2014 at 4:03 p.m.
aae1049 said...

I was a local Republican party precinct chair for 10 years, one of the founding members of the Nightside Pachy, and a long term member of the day Pac group, and a member of the Tea Party. There is nothing you can tell me about my friends or the political groups I have participated in as an active member.

For the record, the Tea Party is indeed comprised of Libertarians, Republican Party Members, and solely Tea Party Members.

You Alla, are clueless.

If you think the local Tea Party is thinking about Palin as your have written, you can probably see Russia from your front porch.

May 2, 2014 at 4:55 p.m.
LibDem said...

Nevertheless, tea partiers support Republicans, vote for Republicans and, when they run for office, label themselves Republicans. They don't want to identify as Republicans because that would mean taking responsibility.

May 2, 2014 at 7:40 p.m.
aae1049 said...

What about the funny little Dems, segregating themselves as progressives, and they are mostly young, white, affluent, similar to the Ochs Center Groups that study poverty and write reports, but would never be caught in the Chattanooga neighborhoods they claim to support.

Oh, those silly little progressives, lily white, and tight.

May 2, 2014 at 10:33 p.m.
schizka said...

If Repubs are pretencing concern and have begun recently to roam around in those neighborhoods and befriending people they'd cross over to the other side of the road in passing, and others wouldn't get caught in, it's because they're looking for ways to exploit the people there and use them, then dump them when the election cycles are over.

May 4, 2014 at 9:17 a.m.
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