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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

As Expected

Employers - BIG EMPLOYERS - are dumping hourly people from their insurance rolls.

This one's particularly noteworthy in that the employer, Wal-Mart, went in big for ObamaCare when it was being debated:
Everyday Low Benefits
Wal-Mart workers pay for the retailer's ObamaCare embrace.
Wall Street Journal editorial

When Wal-Mart endorsed President Obama's health-care plan in 2009, CEO Mike Duke said it did so "to remove the burden that is crushing America's businesses and hampering our competitiveness in the global economy." That doesn't seem to be working out too well—for all Americans, and especially for Wal-Mart's employees.

Last week the largest private U.S. employer announced that it would no longer offer health coverage to part-time workers and would sharply increase premiums for its other "associates."

Wal-Mart says the changes are a response to climbing health-care costs, not the Affordable Care Act per se, though even this is an indictment: The bill that the company claimed would help isn't helping. But Wal-Mart's errant political judgment is less important than what its crash benefits diet says about the future of employer-sponsored insurance.

Under the company's new policy, new workers who put in fewer than 24 hours a week on average won't qualify for any Wal-Mart health plan, while those under 33 hours won't be able to add a spouse. Other premiums and deductibles will jump in 2012, some by as much as 40%.

That and other concessions were part of Wal-Mart's mid-2000s campaign to placate its liberal critics, a bid that reached its apotheosis in its embrace of ObamaCare. Mr. Duke's 2009 endorsement was co-signed by Andy Stern of the Service Employees International Union and John Podesta of the Center for American Progress, the Obama Administration's outside political-policy shop. Expect these political friends with benefits to turn on Wal-Mart now as it is forced into more such triage to manage its health costs, like the rest of the business world.

Wal-Mart's benefit drawdown is especially worrisome if it is a prelude to a taxpayer hand-off. For decades the federal tax preference for job-based health benefits has eroded take-home wages and redirected business capital away from, say, hiring.

It's hard to miss the irony in the Obama health-care revolution eating its own children, but other business leaders looking on agog at the brave new insurance world that Wal-Mart helped to create probably have another word for it. [link]
There is more than a small amount of irony in this.  Those who thought ObamaCare was a neat idea should applaud this move by Wal-Mart to capitalize on the provisions of the health care monstrosity that it - and they - helped to create at the expense of those in the marketplace most vulnerable and least able to afford the expense on their own.

Wal-Mart has dumped its part-timers from its health care plan.  Liberals should rejoice.