Press Releases

Sep 01 2010

ROCKEFELLER, GOODWIN APPLAUD FUNDING TO PROVIDE HEALTH COVERAGE TO WEST VIRGINIA EARLY RETIREES

Nearly 2,000 Employers and Unions Approved for Funding as Part of the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program

Washington, D.C. – Senators Jay Rockefeller and Carte Goodwin, both D-W.Va., today applauded the announcement that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has approved several West Virginia retiree plans for participation in the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program.
 
Created by the new health  reform  law as a bridge to the new health insurance Exchanges in 2014, the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program provides $5 billion in financial assistance to employers and unions to help them maintain coverage for early retirees age 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare.  
 
“We owe it to West Virginia workers and retirees to provide them with the quality, affordable health insurance that they have worked so hard for and deserve,” said Rockefeller.  “Rising health care costs in these tough economic times have made it hard for private sector employers to continue providing health care for their workers and retirees, while also remaining competitive.  This funding is a great example of some of the positive effects of the health care law – protecting businesses and jobs while caring for individuals’ needs.  I commend HHS for releasing this funding so quickly – when West Virginians need it most.”
 
“West Virginia has some of the hardest working people in the country.  These men and women have worked all their lives and deserve the peace of mind to retire with quality health insurance,” said Senator Goodwin.  “HHS is doing the right thing by providing funding for this health care coverage which stands to benefit early retirees across our state.”
 
 Applications are being approved each day, and HHS has already approved the following organizations in West Virginia:
 
·         Building Trades Welfare Fund for the Ohio Valley
·         Highmark West Virginia Inc.
·         IUOE Local 132 Health & Welfare Fund
·         Severstal Wheeling, Inc.
·         Special Metals Corporation Salaried Employees Welfare Fund
·         Teamsters Local Nos. 175 & 505 Health & Welfare Fund
·         The Association of Non Represented Salaried Retirees of Weirton Steel
·         The Fenton Art Glass Company
·         Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation Retiree Benefits Plan
 
Background:
 
The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP) provides reimbursement to participating employment-based plans for a portion of the costs of health benefits for early retirees and early retirees’ spouses, surviving spouses and dependents.  The program was authorized in the Affordable Care Act.
 
Congress appropriated funding of $5 billion for this temporary program, which became effective June 1, 2010, under interim final rules published by the Department on May 5, 2010.  The program ends no later than January 1, 2014.  The program provides reimbursement to sponsors of participating employment-based plans for a portion of the cost of health benefits for early retirees and their spouses, surviving spouses and dependents.  The HHS Secretary will reimburse sponsors for certain claims between $15,000 and $90,000 (with those amounts being indexed for plan years starting on or after October 1, 2011).  The purpose of the reimbursement is to make health benefits more affordable for plan participants and sponsoring organizations so that health benefits are accessible to more Americans than they would otherwise be without this program.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight has approved nearly 2,000 plans representing a broad range of employers from all 50 States and the District of Columbia into the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program in this first round of approvals with more applications being reviewed every day.  The approved applications represent nearly every sector of the economy.
 
In addition to announcing these approved applications, HHS announced today two new information tools for employers and unions interested in the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program – a new website (www.ERRP.gov) and a new hotline (877-574-3777 or 877-574-ERRP).  Employers and unions can find the application form and application instructions online, as well as other relevant guidance and regulations from HHS.
 
For more information about the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program and an interactive map displaying the employers that have been accepted into the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program please visit: http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/early_retiree_reinsurance_program.html
 
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