"WASHINGTON (AP) — Several big corporations have reaped millions of dollars from "Obamacare" even as they support GOP candidates who vow to repeal the law. This condemn-while-benefiting strategy angers Democrats, who see some of their top congressional candidates struggling against waves of anti-Obamacare ads partly funded by these companies.
Among the corporations is a familiar Democratic nemesis, Koch Industries, the giant conglomerate headed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. They and some conservative allies are spending millions of dollars to hammer Democratic senators in North Carolina, Alaska, Colorado, Iowa and elsewhere, chiefly for backing President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., renewed his criticisms of the Kochs this week. In a Senate chamber speech, Reid noted that Koch Industries benefited from a temporary provision of the health care law.
The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, Reid said, "helped the company pay health insurance costs for its retirees who are not covered by Medicare." Reid asked sarcastically: "So it’s OK for Koch Industries to save money through Obamacare" even as Koch-related groups seek the law’s repeal.
When Congress enacted the health care law in 2010, it appropriated $5 billion for the temporary reinsurance program. The goal was to subsidize employers’ costs for workers who retire before they become eligible for Medicare. Hundreds of employers applied – many were corporations, cities and public universities – and virtually all the money was soon distributed.
"If the Affordable Care Act is so awful," Reid asked, "why did Koch Industries use it to their advantage?"
Federal records show that Koch Industries received $1.4 million in early retiree subsidies. That’s considerably less than the sums many other employers received. A Koch Industries spokesman said he had no comment on Reid’s latest criticisms.
The Koch consortium may be the loudest "Obamacare" critic among the subsidized employers. But many others accepted the subsidies while heavily backing GOP House and Senate candidates, most of who call for repealing the 2010 health care law.
For instance, United Parcel Service received $37 million from the program’s subsidies for early retirees. From 1989 through this year, political action committees affiliated with UPS donated $32 million to federal candidates and political parties. Of that, 64 percent went to Republicans, according to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Union Pacific Railroad’s employee health system received $9.7 million in subsidies. Republicans received more than two-thirds of the nearly $20 million in political donations from the railroad’s PACs in the 25-year period tracked by the center."