Well, unlike many things in life that take us by surprise, we all had fair warning that the early retiree reinsurance program’s days were numbered.

It was well publicized from the beginning that the $5 billion set aside under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to reimburse employers for part of the cost of maintaining retiree medical benefit plans would run out of funds early.

Now, after some windfall distributions to some big-name recipients, ERRP funds are being sucked dry even faster than anticipated, so quickly that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will stop accepting ERRP applications altogether on May 5.

In a report published last week, CMS reveals that the agency had approved about 5,850 ERRP applications as of March 17, and provided reimbursements to some 1,300 plan sponsors totaling nearly $1.8 billion.

Among the biggest recipients were the United Auto Workers Retiree Medical Benefits Trust ($206.8 million), AT&T ($140 million), Verizon Communications ($91.7 million) and the Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio ($70.6 million).

AT&T and Verizon, coincidentally (or perhaps not) also received waivers from the Health and Human Services Department, freeing them from PPACA’s prohibition on annual benefit limits.

Remind me again who this law is helping?

And for the discussion in the comments: Have you submitted an ERRP application? Do you plan to, especially now that time is of the essence? Share your thoughts. 

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