CalPERS praises health care reform’s effects

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.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    Gee, what a surprise!

    Pelosi, Stark and Miller all agree on dimmiecrat wonderfulness!

    Everything is as it should be in this best of all possible worlds.

    But we must protect it from the evil Republicans!

    Too bad for them that the voters outside of Crazyfornia disagree with them.

    I wonder what Crazyfornia will do when the entitlement recipients outnumber the entitlement providers. That day will be here soon.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Pelosi, Stark and Miller are three principal reasons the Demonicrats are in the minority come January.

  • ralph hoffmann

    It seems no one likes elected dimmiecrat / Demonicrats or re-Public-Crap-in-the-cans either, anymore. Even those in log cabins are switching in Californicate.

  • Barbara Zivica

    Remarks published by Josh Richman in the 12/15 CCTimes are incorrect. The 2011 CALPERS health care benefits are going UP a total average rate increase of 9.1%.
    Included with the notice to members (including those under the Medicare/HMO plans was a notice that plans now cover dependents up to the age of 26, EVEN IF CHILD DOESN’T LIVE WITH YOU OR ISN’T A STUDENT. How many people age 65 or older have kids under age 26? Donald Trump. Why should those with Medicare coverage be charged for this Obama care absurdity

  • Josh Richman

    Ms. Zivica: I see nothing incorrect in my report; it made no claim that premiums were decreasing.

  • John W

    Re: #4

    People in that age group are the least likely to hold jobs that provide employer-sponsored health insurance; So, I think that part of the health care legislation is popular with most people, especially parents of young adults that age, even if it means their premiums are a slightly higher than they would be otherwise. Donald Trump isn’t the only parent, especially among men, who had kids born while in their 40’s or beyond.

    People with both CALPERS and Medicare health benefits are being heavily subsidized by taxpayers, far beyond whatever the extra premium cost associated with the “up to 26” provision may be. 75% of Medicare Part B costs are paid by taxpayers from the general fund, not from Medicare payroll taxes, which only go to pay for Part A (Hospitalization). The Medicare prescription drug program is also being paid for by general tax revenues. So, who’s paying for whom?