Despite a surprisingly brief blurb on the AP wire & broadcast news media, there was a very important move last week by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) about the future of health care in this country. The court refused to hear an appeal by the American Association of Retired Peoples (AARP) about a companies ability to terminate health care benefits when a retired former employee becomes eligible for Medicare at 65. The AARP is one of the most powerful political lobbies in the United States, and this is a pretty big defeat for them.
The court's action upholdsa a rule adopted last year by regulators that says the "coordination of retiree health benefits with Medicare" is exempt from the anti-age-bias law.
This case has pitted the interests of younger employees and unions against retirees over the dwindling budget for job-related benefits. In recent years, many employers have pulled back from providing these kind of benefits to their retirees because of the soaring cost obligations. But until Monday it had been unclear whether it was illegal to use a worker's age -- in this instance, 65 -- to trigger a reduction in benefits.
"In some cases, it's become a millstone around their necks," said Jack Kyser, chief economist of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. "Corporations aren't all heartless, but in many cases, you're competing with multinational corporations that don't have quite the obligations that domestic firms have."This decision not to hear the appeal is interesting because it's going to grease the skids for a large shift of healthcare obligations from the private sector to the feds. As I remained convinced that we're quickly moving towards "Medicare for all" as the eventual American adoption of universal health coverage, the incorporation of more people under it's existing umbrella seems another move in that direction.