As politicians, the Democratic members of the Wilmington, Del., City Council were early and enthusiastic supporters of Obamacare.
As employers, they are suffering from sticker shock after learning Obamacare for one employee could cost as much as $17,500 per year. They say they do not want to pay it.
The Affordable Care Act requires employers with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance for anyone who works more than 30 hours a week. Some city employees who work more than 30 hours a week are considered part-time and do not receive benefits such as health insurance.
Now that city leaders have read the Obamacare bill and know what is in it, that could change.
“We could potentially add 40 to 50 employees to the city’s health care plan,” said Samuel D. Pratcher, head of the city’s human resources department. “At a cost of $300,000 to $700,000 a year.”
That ranges from $7,500 to $17,500 per employee per year.
That is not an option for this city of 70,000, officials said.
“Coverage for families is more expensive,” explained Councilman Kevin Kelly.
Democrats have dominated Wilmington city politics for at least 50 years. The mayor is a Democrat, as are 12 of the 13 members of the city council. The 13th used to be Democrat, but switched, in part, to fulfill a city charter regulation that at least one member of the city council be from a different political party.
Wilmington is a predominantly black city with a high crime rate that supported Obama in the 2008 and 2012 elections by wide margins.
But no one thought about the cost of Obamacare – other than to pooh-pooh any notion that Obamacare could cause any economic dislocation.
Not until now: City leaders want to avoid the extra expense of Obamacare for city employees – many of whom work as school crossing guards and for the city’s park system in the summer – reducing their hours and changing their status to part-time.
“I’m concerned about families getting cut in pay,” said council member Hanifa Shabazz, an Obama delegate to the national convention. “Can we raise their hourly rate so they will not feel the economic impact? That won’t be as detrimental to our employees. They are willing to work, but the law is making us do this.”
If the city has to reduce the hours of crossing guards, “what do we say to that family if something tragic happens?” said city councilman Mike Brown.
“What I am hearing is a lot of confusion is because we don’t have a sense of the number of employees involved,” said councilman Bud Friel.
Loretta Walsh, a supporter of Obama who said during the election that Republicans who oppose Obama are racist, was unhappy the human resources department did not notify the unions some of their members were going to be losing hours – and money.
“The unions are not our adversaries,” Walsh said. “We are all in this mess together.”
The staffer from human resources could not answer many of the council questions. But she did know one thing for sure:
“We have to conform to the federal mandate,” she said. “This new ordinance is designed to put us in a position where we don’t have to pay benefits. It is going to be far more costly for us to pick up those health care benefits. We have to make sure we don’t put ourselves in that position.”
The same council members who just weeks before had excoriated private business owners for not paying a living wage were silent.
The news that Obamacare could add $700,000 to the city budget comes one year after the mayor declared city’s revenues were so low and city expenses so high he questioned the city’s ability to survive in five years.
It’s not the first time Democrats have expressed alarm at what their president did.
WND reported when talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh said, “All of a sudden it’s 18 senators and some of these doctors and hospitals and medical groups who all of a sudden now, after it’s passed, and after John Roberts contorted himself like a pretzel to find this stupid law constitution, now they want out of it.”
Limbaugh was talking about efforts by more than a dozen Democratic senators who all voted for Obamacare, but now are lobbying against its “job-killing tax” regarding medical devices.
It was former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of course, who told Americans that Congress would have to pass the Obamacare bill so that everyone could find out what was in it.
Now the Democrats are starting to find out.
“Gutless wonders, every d— one of them. Where were they knowing full well where this was going? Where were they before this thing passed. … Where was their courage to stand up and oppose it? They knew full well this day was coming. These people did not have to pass the bill to find out what was in it. Everybody knew what was it it,” Limbaugh said.
“They’re worthless now. But, now, here’s the thing. I don’t know whether they’re gonna be able to succeed. There’s 18 senators who want to defund this. Because all politics is local in this case, and now it’s gonna hurt their constituents, and now that might mean it’s gonna hurt their reelection, and it’s gonna hurt their state economies.”
According to a report in the Daily Caller, the Democrats’ urgent concern now is a medical device tax of 2.3 percent.
The members of Congress sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying they wanted to delay the start of the tax, because, “The medical technology industry directly employs over 400,000 people in the United States and is responsible for a total of two million high-skilled manufacturing jobs … With this year quickly drawing to a close, the medical device industry has received little guidance about how to comply with the tax – causing significant uncertainty and confusion…”
The report noted that while the members of Congress may believe there’s a lot of confusion, the industry is taking direct action. It reported Zimmer Holdings, which makes hip replacement implants, laid off 450 workers expecting a $60 million tax bill in 2013. And Stryker Corp., a similar company, laid off 5 percent of its employees for the same reason.
“The provision has proved to be problematic for Democratic senators from states with large numbers of medical device companies. Indiana Sen.-Elect Joe Donnelly and Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow signed the letter alongside the next Massachusetts Senate delegation, Elizabeth Warren and John Kerry, whose state is home to more than 400 medical device companies,” the report said.
“So the question is, ‘Well, if you rip the funding mechanism out of the law, and then you take this independent payment advisory panel and your rip them out of the law…?’ That’s cost containment, ostensibly. That’s the bunch that determines what we’re gonna spend and what we’re not gonna spend. So that’s cost containment. You take those two things out, how can you implement the law at all?” Limbaugh asked.
“That’s where this is headed. Now, don’t misunderstand. I don’t expect this not to be implemented. … I’m just telling you, there are 16 senators and a bunch of these people (all of them just couldn’t wait to vote for this thing) who now want to be exempted from it, folks.
“They’re not going to the mat to keep you exempted. They want their own constituents and themselves exempted. That’s what ‘having their cake and eating it, too,’ means.”
“They voted for it and they got credit. Now they want to not be penalized by it,” he said.
Townhall reported that among the Obamacare critics now are those who were the biggest supporters two years ago.
“Senators like Al Franken, D-Minn.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; Patty Murray, D-Wash.; John Kerry, D-Mass.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; and others – all of whom voted in favor of the law – are aiming to delay or outright repeal parts of Obamacare,” the report said.