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Target Corp.'s latest abuse of Obamacare

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Following the lead of Trader Joe’s Co., Home Depot Inc. and other U.S. retailers, the nation’s second largest mass merchandiser, Minneapolis-based Target Corp., is the latest company to abuse the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. While claiming it’s for the benefit of part-time employees, the reality is Target finds itself drooling over the prospects of saving millions in profits from ending employer-based health care for employees working less than 30 hours a week. Claiming that offering part-time workers health care would potentially disqualify them from government subsidies under Obamacare, Target Corp makes the same lame excuse as other big retailers that seized the opportunity to pass the buck to the government. Obamacare was never intended to save corporations millions in health care costs at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.

When President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law March 23, 2010, he had no intention of saving corporations millions in health care costs. His intent was to provide health care for the some 30 million uninsured U.S. citizens, who were either ineligible for health insurance because of pre-existing medical conditions or couldn’t afford it. Insisting that they’re doing part-time employees a favor by passing them off to Obamacare is an outrageous abuse of the law. With Democrats and Republicans at loggerheads in Congress, there’s no bipartisan cooperation to fix the law’s glaring loopholes. “By offering them insurance, we could actually disqualify many of them from being eligible for newly available subsidies that could reduce thei4r overall health insurance expense,” Target said, proving corporations are adept at smoke blowing.

By Target’s logic, no employee should work at all because they’d be eligible under the new health care law to qualify for Medicaid, health insurance for the poor. No corporation should be allowed to save money on health care benefits at the expense of Uncle Same and U.S. taxpayers. Obamacare wasn’t intended to increase profit margins to publicly traded or privately held corporations. When Trader Joe’s Co. and Home Depot Inc. made the same argument last April transferring part-time employees to Obamacare is was disgraceful. If there were any bipartisanship on Capitol Hill, Congress would have forced companies to reimburse the government for the savings of transferring part-time employees to Obamacare. Insisting they’re do it for the employee’s benefit is laughable. Better yet, the government should have prohibited companies from abusing the ACA for their own gain.

Since the ACA went live Oct. 1, the insurance industry has gouged employers and consumers, raising rates, claiming that more sick folks on books would lower their profit margins. With no bipartisan cooperation in Congress, the insurance industry has been exploiting Obamacare for their own gain form Day 1. While the GOP seeks to score political points with Obamacare, the insurance industry gets to rip off consumers with impunity. Whether admitted to or not, the ACA has become the biggest cash cow the industry’s history. No publicly traded or privately held company should be allowed to pass its costs on to the government. If Target’s really serious about saving employees money, they should reimburse the government for the savings found in transferring tens-of-thousands of part-time employers off employer-based health insurance to government-based coverage.

Making more excuses than the “Wolf of Wall Street,” Target insists it’s making changes for employees own good. “Heath-care reform is transforming the benefits landscape and affect how all employers, including Target, administer health benefits coverage,” said Jodee Kozlak, Target’s executive vice president of human resources. Citing “new options available for our part-time team, and the historically low number of team members who elected to enroll in the part-time plan,” Kozlak offers more lame excuses for why Target Corp. decided to pass the buck to the government. Greedy employers have decided to exploit the government now that Uncle Sam’s footing the bill for qualified individuals. When Kozlak talks of “new options,” she’s referring to Target Corp.’s taking full advantage of a glaring ACA loophole, allowing companies to save millions in health care costs.

Once Republicans in Congress no longer gain any political benefit from Obamacare, they should sit down with their Democrat colleagues a figure out a way to prevent publicly traded or private companies from exploiting the government to increase profit margins. Listening to Target Corp. executives make more excuses of how they're looking after part-time employees shows how profit-driven companies seek any way to increase profits. “But now, unlike before, employees have the option of shopping the marketplace of quality, affordable coverage, where they may be able to qualify for a tax credit of help pay for the costs,” Joanne Peters, spokeswoman for the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, proving the government’s complicity. If the government can’t see how companies are exploiting the ACA at taxpayers expense, then there’s little hope to stop the practice.

About the Author

John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.

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