As Lilly, Pfizer Lobby Against Obama Healthcare Plan, Their Execs Enjoy Gold-Plated Coverage

Last Updated Jul 10, 2009 2:41 PM EDT

Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and PhRMA all oppose a pubic heathcare plan, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Instead, they'd like to see individual insurance mandates and an expansion of health savings accounts. But their top executives have health insurance plans which include cash payments of thousands of dollars and coverage that extends for years if they get laid off.

For most us, when we lose a job we lose our healthcare coverage pretty quickly after that. Sure, we're offered Cobra coverage but unless you need long-term or catastrophic care, it's often cheaper just to pay cash. Top execs at Lilly and Pfizer, however, don't worry about any of this. If they get laid off their coverage continues for another two years.

At Lilly:

Basic employee benefits such as health and life insurance would be continued for up to two years following termination of employment. All executives, including named executive officers, are entitled to two years' benefit continuation. This period will be reduced to 18 months beginning in 2010.
At Pfizer:
... eligible executives would receive a pro-rata target annual incentive for the year of termination as well as certain health and welfare benefits.
CFO Frank D'Amelio has a special deal just for him:
... for the two-year period following termination of employment (or, if earlier, until he becomes eligible to receive group health coverage from another employer), he will continue to receive group health benefits from Pfizer at our expense.
The other execs -- CEO Jeff Kindler et al -- do not currently meet the requirement for coverage so the company will award them between $108,000 and $142,000 each in lieu of benefits.

PhRMA, to its credit, is arguing for an extension of Medicaid. What, exactly, Lilly wants to see in President Obama's plan is a little confusing. The company's new top mouthpiece, Bart Peterson, told the Indianapolis Business Journal that Lilly doesn't want to take "today's" coverage and "make it available to everybody":

The most important part of the message is the importance of preserving innovation. A lot of the health care debate has been about, how do we cover the uninsured, how do we reduce the costs of health care? These are very important issues, obviously.

But we don't want to just take today's health care system, today's level of care, and make it available to everybody. We want it to get better and better.

That could mean anything. The one thing it definitely does not mean is, "We support a plan in which employers continue healthcare coverage for years after we lay off employees, and if employees don't qualify we'll pay them the cash value instead." Image: healthcare reform-haters Harry and Louise. Disclosure: The author has no healthcare coverage and would like some.