The PBS Newshour reports on the Wall Street Journal story about the McDonald mini med health plan and the Company’s letter to the Secretary of HHS. Here is a quote from the article:
The Wall Street Journal first reported Thursday that the company is considering dropping the limited-benefit insurance plans that it offers to 30,000 hourly workers. The article quoted a memo from McDonald’s to the Department of Health and Human Services that said that “it would be economically prohibitive for our carrier to continue offering” the plans under the new health reform regulations, which will require insurers to spend 80 or 85 percent of the premiums they take in on benefits for their customers.
HHS and McDonald’s have both denied the accuracy of the article. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters that “the story is flat out wrong and I am sorry they were not more accurate in their reporting.”
Meanwhile, McDonald’s spokesman Steve Russell said in a written statement: “Media reports stating that we plan to drop health care coverage for our employees are completely false. These reports are purely speculative and misleading.”
Now here is the other side of the story and what was contained in the Wall Street Journal Article. If you read this you will see Mc Donalds clearly gives the impression it may drop coverage (or be forced to) while at the same time the article includes the fact that a McDonalds spokeswoman said they would have to look for other coverage.
How sensitive the Administration is, but not so sensitive that it does not send out e-mails from the White House saying that Republicans are holding up your tax cut. Tax cut, what tax cut, are my taxes going down? Well, read closely and you will see they are actually talking about continuing current tax rates into 2011. Oh those headlines!
While the WSJ headline read “McDonalds May Drop Health Plans, here is what the WSJ article says and what McDonalds is quoted as saying:
“Having to drop our current mini-med offering would represent a huge disruption to our 29,500 participants,” said McDonald’s memo, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “It would deny our people this current benefit that positively impacts their lives and protects their health—and would leave many without an affordable, comparably designed alternative until 2014.”
A spokeswoman for McDonald’s said it would look for other insurance options if it couldn’t get the waiver. The company’s chief people officer for the U.S., Steve Russell, said, “McDonald’s will continue to be committed to providing competitive pay and benefits.”
The health law expands Medicaid and offers large subsidies to lower-income people to buy coverage, but those provisions don’t kick in until 2014.
Federal officials say there’s no guarantee they can grant mini-med carriers a waiver. They say the answer may not come by November, when many employers require employees to sign up for the coming year’s benefits.
The government is waiting for the association of state insurance commissioners to draft recommendations. The head of the association’s health-insurance committee, Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, said she doesn’t think these types of mini-med plans deserve an exemption. “If they are sold as comprehensive coverage, we expect them to meet the same [medical-loss ratio] standards as other health plans,” she said.
Steven Larsen, the HHS official who received McDonald’s email memo, said the department doesn’t want employers to drop coverage over the law. The agency says it has already given the carrier for McDonald’s and others the chance to seek exemption from new annual limits on benefit payouts.
Insurers say dozens of other employers could find themselves in the same situation as McDonald’s. Aetna Inc., one of the largest sellers of mini-med plans, provides the plans to Home Depot Inc., Disney Worldwide Services, CVS Caremark Corp., Staples Inc. and Blockbuster Inc., among others, according to an Aetna client list obtained by the Journal. Aetna also covers AmeriCorps teaching-program sponsors, who are required by law to make health coverage available.
Aetna declined to comment; it has previously indicated that the requirement could hurt its limited benefit plans.
“There is not any issuer of limited benefit coverage that could meet the enhanced MLR standards,” said Neil Trautwein, a vice president at the National Retail Federation, using the abbreviation for medical loss ratio.