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Nevada Employers Tap New Federal Program to Help Cover Cost of Retiree Health Care

Press Release

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Congresswoman Shelley Berkley today released a list of Nevada employers that have been accepted in the federal Early Retiree Reinsurance Program. Created under The Affordable Care Act, 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.

"The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program is helping Nevada employers address the cost of maintaining health coverage for early retirees who are 55 and older, but not yet eligible for Medicare benefits. The cost to insure these Americans is higher than the cost of covering younger employees and that has resulted in the loss of affordable insurance for many retired men and women and their families," said Berkley.

The percentage of large firms providing workers with retiree health coverage has dropped from 66 percent in 1988 to 29 percent in 2009. Health insurance premiums for older Americans are over four times more expensive than they are for young adults and the deductible these enrollees pay is, on average, almost four times that for a typical employer-sponsored insurance plan.

"Less than one-third of large firms now provide retired workers with health coverage and without this program created under The Affordable Care Act, more and more retirees in Nevada and nationwide would see their access to health benefits eliminated," said Berkley. "Once a business, government or union is accepted into the program, they are eligible to receive reimbursements for medical care provided to early retirees, spouses and dependents. Henderson, the State of Nevada, NV Energy, Metro Police, City of Las Vegas Firefighters, Washoe County, and multiple unions in the Silver State have all been accepted for participation in this vital program that will help prevent an increase in the number of Nevadans who are uninsured and that provides peace of mind for retirees."

Businesses, other employers, and unions that are accepted into the program will receive reimbursement for medical claims for early retirees and their spouses, surviving spouses, and dependents. Savings can be used to reduce employer health care costs, provide premium relief to workers and families, or both. Applicants who are approved into the program receive reinsurance for the claims of high-cost retirees and their families (80 percent of the costs from $15,000 to $90,000). Starting in September, approved applicants can begin submitting claims dating back to June 1, 2010 and, starting in October, approved applicants will begin to receive reinsurance payments on those claims. This policy allows more health benefit claims to qualify for reinsurance payments for plans this year.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has approved the following sponsors from Nevada:

Board of Trustees IBEW Local 640
Cement Masons and Plasterers Health and Welfare Plan
City of Henderson
Las Vegas Firefighters Health and Welfare Trust 1285 Local
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Employees Health & Welfare Trust
NV Energy, Inc.
Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 525 Health and Welfare Trust
School Administrators Welfare Trust
Southwest Gas Corporation
State of Nevada Self Funded Plan
Teamsters Local 631 Security Plan for Southern Nevada
Teamsters Security Fund for Southern Nevada
Washoe County
Washoe County School District

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