Pay for Retiree Health Care by Putting California Government Workers in Obamacare

As I’ve stated here before, there is no reason for California governments to continue retiree health care benefits for those who aren’t already retired or vested. It’s costly as heck (and getting costlier), and money hasn’t been set aside to pay for the benefits. And this country has Obamacare and Medicare to cover government retirees.

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But retiree health care seems here to stay – in fact, the Brown administration is widely reported to be coming up with a plan to provide more of a funding base for it. That’s essential — even if the state comes to its senses and ends retiree health care, there will be many decades of benefits to pay for those who already have earned them.

But how to provide funding? I’d suggest taking a hard line: no other program or part of the budget should suffer to pay for retiree health care (that could just as easily be provided by existing public programs). So how to pay for it? The most appropriate way would be to put today’s state and local government workers into the insurance markets created by Obamacare.

The money saved – a Stanford study estimated the annual savings to California would be $1.4 billion – would be significant, providing a base of funding for retiree health care.

There’d be other benefits to the shift – including building up the fledgling markets with new customers and giving powerful public employee unions a stake in making the markets work. (Do you think it would be so hard to get Covered California on the phone if SEIU members were its customers?) And it’d be more than fair, since unions are the most important backers of the party that gave us this new health insurance system.

Of course, the fairness of such a policy wouldn’t stop unions from opposing this . And that opposition represents an opportunity for both sides of the political spectrum. The right could point out that even Democratic interest groups don’t want to go on with Obamacare. Republicans in the legislature, if they’re going to use their newfound ability to block Democrats who lost their supermajorities, would be wise to seize on this issue; they should block measures that require two-thirds until they get the elimination of retiree health care going forward.

Less-political people on the left could point out that having public employees getting platinum-coated health benefits means less money for vital public programs and investments. And they could make the most fundamental of progressive arguments: shouldn’t we all be in this together?

This article was originally published on Fox and Hounds Daily


  1. Too much common-sense involved, they’d never go for it.


  3. Great idea. To easy to understand. Won’t pass.

  4. This idea is perfectly logical!!!!
    The Dumbocrats in Sacrademento will never go for it.
    For that matter, politicians should enter into it as well.

  5. Howard Wolf says

    This is great! Cram Obama-care down their throats, just as most of them voted to cram BHO up our uknowwhats!

  6. The elitist Alinskyists would never approve of such a thing. What is great for them is usually not what they allow others to receive only the protected one percent and that is the government employee.

  7. Problem not mentioned. Health care is promised even though the employee paid little or nothing the fund.

    The UNFUNDED LIABILITY for health coverage is enormous, Pers really doesn’t care and the Unions whistle all the way to the next executive meeting.
    Why can’t the public stand up and protest the excesses in public spending? We truly are a bunch of WIMPS

  8. Soon there will be no one at all in this state who can possibly believe they will outlive their debts. How can there be ‘unfunded liabilities,’ ‘deficits’ without a budget and still no accountability?
    An odd ‘solution’ to retiree healthcare costs questions that repeats what causes all the problems: Socialist Security going broke, where’s the money going to come from? increase and expand benefits; ObamaCare may not last as long as the regime which is also going broke, where is the money going to come from? all healthcare and insurance under the control of the Federal Government, just like Cuba, a fine model for all 50 states to be like California. Medicare, same story as we see it spiraling into the same black hole..
    Programs that were obscene in flush times, from The War on Poverty, are much worse because of the spenders of other peoples’ money and their need to buy friends knows no limits leaving plenty of room for yet another program.
    Especially friends like public employee unions, holders of public offices, legislators that pass laws they don’t even bother to read.

    As someone recently said: “You cannot fix what should not even exist.”

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