Employers cited in GOP healthcare attack received nearly $150M from law

The companies singled out in a Republican report on the healthcare law’s costs have gotten more than $150 million from the law to help control their expenses.

Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee released a report Thursday that said President Obama’s healthcare law will raise costs for the members of Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

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The members of that council received tens of millions of dollars from a program under the health law that helped employers provide coverage to early retirees.

Thirteen of the council’s 27 members received money from the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP). And some of the biggest recipients are the same companies that featured most prominently in Republicans’ criticism.

The GOP report, for example, says General Electric is expecting to see several specific increases in its healthcare costs because of the new law. GE had drawn down more than $38 million from ERRP as of this February.

Citigroup told Republican investigators that it expects its healthcare costs to grow by roughly $8 million because of the law’s individual mandate. Citigroup got roughly $8 million from ERRP.

For most companies cited in the Energy and Commerce report, payments from ERRP do not entirely offset the new costs they said they would incur. But the fact that these companies have benefited from the fund could bolster Democratic arguments that the GOP is painting an incomplete picture of how the new law will affect businesses.

Democrats challenged the Energy and Commerce report upon its release Thursday, saying it omitted information that didn’t fit the narrative of rising costs, including comments in which several members of Obama’s jobs council said they didn’t expect the law to have a substantial impact on their healthcare costs.

The Republican report makes only glancing mention of ERRP. It notes that Boeing cited the fund as a potential advantage of the healthcare law, but not one that would outweigh the costs Boeing expects to incur. The company told Energy and Commerce investigators that ERRP would help, but it would still need to shift more costs to its employees and retirees.

Boeing received about $50 million from ERRP as of February, the largest single recipient among members of Obama’s jobs council.

The healthcare law devoted $5 billion to the ERRP and authorized the program through 2014. But the Health and Human Services Department ended the program at the end of last year amid overwhelming demand from employers.