Certain Big Labor groups suddenly not so partial to ObamaCare

posted at 11:31 am on January 31, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Once upon a time, labor unions were all about supporting President Obama’s health-care overhaul efforts. They stood alongside him while he touted all of the phantasmogorical benefits, savings, and efficiencies that would ostensibly, effortlessly occur when ObamaCare was finally implemented, and then many of these same groups enthusiastically backed his reelection bid — helping to ensure that ObamaCare would be safe from repeal.

But now that ObamaCare is utterly failing to stop the rise of health-care costs, premium prices are still rising, and the whole thing is turning into and expensive, bureaucratic-regulatory nightmare? Not so much.

The WSJ reports that various Big Labor groups are balking at rising health-care and insurance costs, and they’re pressuring the Obama administration to stretch the federal subsidy program meant to apply to low-income workers without employer coverage in order to help them comply with the individual mandate and purchase health insurance (emphasis mine):

Union leaders say many of the law’s requirements will drive up the costs for their health-care plans and make unionized workers less competitive. Among other things, the law eliminates the caps on medical benefits and prescription drugs used as cost-containment measures in many health-care plans. It also allows children to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26.

To offset that, the nation’s largest labor groups want their lower-paid members to be able to get federal insurance subsidies while remaining on their plans. In the law, these subsidies were designed only for low-income workers without employer coverage as a way to help them buy private insurance.

In early talks, the Obama administration dismissed the idea of applying the subsidies to people in union-sponsored plans, according to officials from the trade group, the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans, that represents these insurance plans. Contacted for this article, Obama administration officials said the issue is subject to regulations still being written. …

Who wants to put money on the Obama administration finding a way to make the unions happy here? Administration officials are currently declining to comment on whether union-employer plans might be able to qualify for the subsidies, which means that they probably haven’t quite decided themselves yet — but with unions bringing the pressure, I’m sure they’re heartily considering it. Mighty convenient, these regulations “still be written” and all. And who will bear the cost? The taxpayer, that’s who — giving in to the unions’ demands will raise the ACA’s price tag as well as provide a perk-seeking opening to nonunions employers in the same situation.

If the Obama administration doesn’t give in, labor leaders are cautioning that unionized employers may just decide to drop coverage. Unions are thinking that it might make cost-effective sense to ditch employer coverage in favor of just letting their members seek private coverage subsidized by the government — but the ‘great health care’ is kind of one of the big selling points of joining a union.

The Sheet Metal Workers International Association helped push for passage of the health law. Mr. Beall said he still believes everyone should have health insurance, but worries the law is undermining the union’s ability to offer coverage.

“If we’re not offering our members insurance and pension, why would you want to be union?” he asked.

Nutshell version: Big Labor worked tirelessly to help President Obama get his ACA passed, and then helped him get reelected, and they’re finally figuring out that they’re stuck with his notoriously ill-thought-out plan. The heart bleeds.

Exit quotation: “If you like your plan, you can keep it.”


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