California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) CEO Anne Stausboll wrote today to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius thank her for the department’s swift implementation of health care reform, which she said has helped the pension fund’s enrollees in several ways already.
CalPERS is the nation’s largest non-federal purchaser of health benefits in the country, and Stausboll wrote in her letter that – thanks to the health care reforms signed into law earlier this year – more than 27,000 young adults were added to their parents’ health plans effective next month, resulting in a premium increase of less than 1 percent. CalPERS also removed lifetime limits from all plans that previously had included them, she wrote.
And Stausboll wrote that CalPERS joined a program that aids early retiree health plans to keep premium costs down; this program helped hold premiums to their lowest increase in 14 years, and CalPERS estimates savings of about $200 million for more than 115,000 early retirees and their families.
All this is music to the ears of Congressional Democrats.
“Already, tens of thousands of families across California – and millions of Americans – are seeing the concrete benefits of health reform,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said in a news release. “The Patient’s Bill of Rights in health reform is now protecting Americans from the worst abuses of the insurance industry, such as lifetime limits, and CalPERS is showing us the real, human impact of these and other reform provisions.”
House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark, D-Fremont, said the letter proves the reforms already are paying dividends just months after becoming law. “Republicans have pledged to repeal the health reform law and undo these consumer protections,” he said. “This is a dangerous prospect for nearly 1.3 million Californians in CalPERS who would be hurt.”
House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, agreed. “Repealing these historic reforms, as Washington Republicans have pledged to do, will take away basic health benefits that Californians count on and take hard-earned money right out of their pockets. Californians, and all Americans, simply cannot afford the radical Republican repeal agenda.”
Sebelius blogged about the letter, writing that “we’re seeing similar signs of progress across the country … And in the months to come, we look forward to working with CalPERS and employers across the country to implement this new law and make sure all Americans can get the care they need.”