September 29th, 2013
11:26 AM ET
1 year ago

Howard Dean: Small businesses to 'dump' employees onto exchanges

Washington (CNN) - Howard Dean, a former governor and physician and a proponent of the federal health care law, acknowledged Sunday that some businesses will inevitably drop health insurance coverage for their employees.

"Small businesses are going to dump their employees into the exchange. I think that's a good thing," the former Democratic presidential candidate from Vermont said on CNN's "State of the Union." "To separate employment from health insurance, that's something conservatives have wanted to do for a long time until recently, and I think that's going to happen as a result of this bill."

Dean originally disapproved of Obamacare because it lacked a public option and, in his view, did not go far enough in covering Americans. But he now says he's "very optimistic" about the law.

"I think when they see what this looks like, this debate we're having, which is outrageous, is going to look really stupid," he told CNN's chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.

But Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, another physician, was quick to pounce on Dean's statement about small businesses "dumping" their employees onto the exchanges - or, as Barrasso said, "dump them onto taxpayer subsidies."

The senator also pointed to President Barack Obama's repeated assertion during his re-election bid that if Americans like their insurance plan, they'll be able to keep it under Obamacare.

"First of all, if you've got health insurance, you like your doctor, you like your plan - you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you," the president said as far back as 2009, before the plan passed.

Read: Fact Check: You can keep your own doctor

At least in part because of the new law, some large employers are reassessing how they offer health care to their employees. This summer shipping giant UPS announced it would no longer cover spouses of non-union employees who are also eligible for health benefits from their own employers. This affects about 15,000spouses who as of January 1, 2014, will have to change insurance plans.

Some major labor unions that originally signed on to health care reform now say many of their members may not be able to keep their current health care coverage under multi-employer plans. These plans, which pool risk among small businesses, are not eligible for federal subsidies under the new health care law. That means union workers might have to change health care plans.

Also, only a handful of existing individual plans that people currently have will be grandfathered into the exchanges. So most people currently in the individual market will need to get new plans.

"Now think about that," Barrasso said. "The president said if you like what you have, you can keep it. There are people all around the country who like the insurance they have and can't keep it because, as Howard said, they're going to get dumped into the exchange,"

"This law is not workable, it's unpopular, it's unaffordable for us as a nation," he said. "It's hurting jobs, it's hurting the economy."

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. rs

    Well, that's how the Republican inspired, Romneycare-inspired, Heritage Foundation-inspired ACA was meant to work. More the wonder why the GOP so hates their own creation- especially as it seems to be working so far.....

    It's just the GOP's craving for nihilistic chaos in leadership I guess.

    September 29, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  2. Gunderson

    Old Gunderson also optimistic Howard old Pal. So who pick up slack? Oh, that be Tax Payers no? Only Problem Employers also dump employees. So now what happen? Oh, right. Federal Debt continue to climb. You like, no. Howard?

    September 29, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  3. KK

    My husband and I both are over 60. We have no children that are dependents. I plugged that info into my state and up popped 64 selections. We currently are covered by an employer with a 10,000 out of pocket yearly family cost to us. We had to pay out 10,000 last year and will again this year. To get coverage I still have to call first to figure out if a procedure is covered. Often it is not and thus doesn't get done. Anyway, if we went to the exchange to get our coverage, this is what is available to us. The lowest cost policy of which there are very few, was 380.68/mo which was an HMO with a 20,000 family deductible and no prescriptions. For the most part the majority of policies offered fell between 900/mo to 1600/mo. Do you think this is affordable? I am horrified by these prices.

    September 29, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. Michael Benjamin

    Another example of shooting off one's mouth before engaging one's brain.

    September 29, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  5. Ingrid

    Have we forgotten that the failure of employers to provide group insurance for their employees is at the root of the cause for the fact that so many Americans are uninsured? If employers 'dump' their employees into exchanges, I will not be surprised, but I would not blame the Affordable Health Care Act for their behaviors. I place the blame on the greed of so many employers that fail to pay a decent wage or health coverage and that would jump on any opportunity to add to the cash in their pockets at the expense of their 'expendable' employees. Our country is failing because we have become an individualistic society that does not concern itself with the overall good of everyone, but lives be the motto of 'each to his own.' -a prevailing sentiment that drives the absurdity of the GOP who play with American lives like pawns in a chess game-the politician with the most votes wins. I am disgusted with the tactics of the Republicans! The smoke and mirror tactics fail to hide their deception!

    September 29, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  6. ED1

    And nobody didn't think this would happen guess you still believe in the Easter Bunny too.

    September 29, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  7. Rick McDaniel

    They would be foolish NOT to do that.

    September 29, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  8. DD

    I have been looking at the exchange prices in case my family gets "dumped" there by my small employer. Because my wife and I both work, our income is too high for any subsidy. My wife and I are in our early 40's and have a teenage son at home and a daughter in college. No one smokes. The cheapest "silver" plan I can find on the exchange would cost my family $1200 per month, with a $2000 per person deductible. That is a 400% increase over what our cost for employer-provided insurance has been. Plus, we would have to pay those premiums with after-tax dollars, which is equivalent to paying $2000 per month. There is no way we could afford these rates.

    September 29, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  9. Thomas

    Why can't we just call in Romney Care ?

    Even then the GOP will complain .

    September 29, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. Ngoc-V-Le/Le-Roy

    Plans healthcare by GOV'T every People need to buy health insurance if the poor people the GOV'T help But No working under table get Cash and Hide taxpayer The people go to see Doctor only CO pay NO deducteble..GOV'T don't mind some small business! If the employer they have qualify the GOV'T help them by Benefit Program FEDERAL FUNDS. But they need Report some thing right no Lie...

    September 29, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  11. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    That's because they never had anything better , the GOP is really going to look stupid after this is all over. Well they are the party of stupid according to the heads of the GOP and they are right about that!!!!!!

    September 29, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  12. sharon

    The more employer who 'dump' health coverage for their employees, the faster we move to a single payer plan. Once that happens, people will be able to change jobs without worrying about coverage. As a single parent (with an ex who sometimes 'forgot' to let new employers know he had children), I always had to factor in health care when looking at new positions. As to KK's comment, if they are a two person family, the family coverage does not pertain to them. Sounds like they currently have a high deductible plan (usually under $50 per month for 2 people under an employer plan) which is meant to be set up with a medical savings plan to cover that deductible. If it isn't then your employer is ripping you off.

    September 29, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |