Owens Urges Upstate Employers to Apply for New Health Insurance Benefit

WASHINGTON – Congressman Bill Owens announced that, starting yesterday, employers who offer health coverage to early retirees can begin applying for help with the costs.

“Earlier this year, I voted for health reform because insurance costs are spiraling out of control both on a national level and for Upstate New York small business owners. The Early Retiree program will help to deliver affordable access to quality care to those who retire before age 65 and allow our local employers to put our community back to work and compete in the global marketplace,” said Owens.

The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program will invest $5 billion in financial assistance for employer health plans offered to early retirees. This initiative will provide premium relief for employers while increasing access to high-quality medical coverage. As the President of Business Roundtable has said, ‘The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program reduces costs and allows many of our member companies to continue providing this critical coverage to retirees and their families.”

“Health care reform was necessary because the cost of inaction would rise more and more each day,” Owens added. “The rising costs of insurance have forced Upstate entrepreneurs to choose between making a profit and providing quality workers and retirees with health coverage. In the past twenty years, coverage for retired employees has been cut in half, leaving retirees who are too young for Medicare without access to quality health care.”

The Early Retiree program will provide an important bridge for early retirees and their former employers as we move toward a more competitive, patient-centered health care system in 2014, when the Health Insurance Exchanges begin.

“This is just one benefit of health care reform that can help potentially millions of working Americans and their employers. As we work to continue to implement these programs, it is important that Upstate New Yorkers understand what they qualify for so that they can receive the benefits and care they deserve,” said Owens.

Starting today, employers can go to www.hhs.gov/ociio to fill out the applications for participating in the Early Retiree program. Program participants will be able to submit claims for medical care of their early retirees going back to June 1, 2010.