SJ Mercury News: Stanford study: Moving some public workers to Obamacare could save billions

By Tracy Seipel

Shifting hundreds of thousands of state and local government workers to less expensive coverage under the new health care law would save California about $1.4 billion a year, according to a study released this month by a group of Stanford University academics.

Taxpayers could save almost $12 billion a year nationwide if two segments of America’s public employee sector — retirees under 65 and low-income government workers — were moved to coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the study found.

“It’s going to be very tempting,” said Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a Stanford University associate professor of medicine and health care economist who co-wrote the study with two other Stanford professors and a researcher.

Savings in health care costs have long been touted as a major upside of President Barack Obama’s landmark health care overhaul, but critics say such a proposal would serve as another example of how the law deprives some consumers of health care choices.

Bhattacharya acknowledged that the conclusions would be vigorously challenged by employee unions across America whose benefits are covered by labor contracts.

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