Report: Is Big Labor about to get some of its doggedly sought-after ObamaCare relief after all?

posted at 4:41 pm on November 6, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Big Labor’s gigantic retrenchment away from actively advocating for ObamaCare before its passage to openly hating on the law over the past year (after they finally figured out that it is going to pretty much ruin the makeup of their union benefits schemes) is old news by now, but Labor leaders have been vigorously lobbying the Obama administration to make just a few oh-so-minor adjustments to the law here and there on their behalf. At their big convention back in September, the AFL-CIO adopted a laundry list of resolutions appealing to ways in which the Obama administration could help make their lives easier, but the administration initially didn’t act very receptive.

Perhaps their biggest request, that their members become eligible for the administration’s highly-touted insurance subsidies for those with lower incomes, doesn’t look like it’s going to gain any traction (yet), but the administration might be quietly getting ready to help grease the wheels for Big Labor by acquiescing to another small favor.

Via Kaiser Health News:

Weeks after denying labor’s request to give union members access to health-law subsidies, the Obama administration is signaling it intends to exempt some union plans from one of the law’s substantial taxes.

Buried in rules issued last week is the disclosure that the administration will propose exempting “certain self-insured, self-administered plans” from the law’s temporary reinsurance fee in 2015 and 2016.

That’s a description that applies to many Taft-Hartley union plans acting as their own insurance company and claims processor, said Edward Fensholt, a senior vice president at Lockton Cos., a large insurance broker.

Insurance companies and self-insured employers that hire outside claims administrators would still be liable for the fee, which starts at $63 per insurance plan member next year and is projected to raise $25 billion over three years.

Exemption from the reinsurance fee was on the AFL-CIO’s list, and I’m sure the Obama administration doesn’t want to leave Labor completely out in the cold when they’ve so obviously made ObamaCare concessions to other interest groups. We’ll have to wait and see for sure exactly how HHS gets to work on this, but as the Kaiser article points out, emphasis mine:

Although it’s too early to tell whether the Department of Health and Human Services will give union plans all of what they want on the fee, last week’s language “is how HHS often breaks controversial regulatory news,” benefits lawyer R. Pepper Crutcher, Jr. wrote last week.


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“Thee and Me”

Schadenfreude on November 6, 2013 at 4:48 PM

This comes out in the post election news rush. Hardly anyone will read it. Typical Obama news management.

MTF on November 6, 2013 at 4:49 PM

It’s beyond tar and feathers time.

BuckeyeSam on November 6, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Nothing unconstitutional about this Judge Robber?

ConcealedKerry on November 6, 2013 at 4:50 PM

Favored tribe

Murphy9 on November 6, 2013 at 4:51 PM

The GOP BETTER raise hell over this and do everything they can to stop it. This guy really does think he’s king.

ncconservative on November 6, 2013 at 4:51 PM

These thugs will get something and I will get nothing. I’m going to refuse to sign up. I think the federal prisons still give you 3 squares a day, a phone in your room, a tv and any other convenience that you want.

tmgrant on November 6, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Although it’s too early to tell whether the Department of Health and Human Services will give union plans all of what they want on the fee, last week’s language “is how HHS often breaks controversial regulatory news,” benefits lawyer R. Pepper Crutcher, Jr. wrote last week.

Most open and transparent Administration ever?

That the above isn’t the case is as much of a surprise as the strong likelihood that the Administration will give Big Labor a break on ACA taxes/fees…particularly in 2014 as the Democrats look to Big Labor for campaign contributions for the midterm races.

Athos on November 6, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Is Big Labor about to get some of its doggedly sought-after ObamaCare relief after all?

Was there ever any doubt that the Dhimmicrats would take care of their base? Only fools believed the unions wouldn’t get what they wanted. The whole thing was nothing but a dog and pony show.

oldleprechaun on November 6, 2013 at 4:54 PM

I’m going to refuse to sign up. I think the federal prisons still give you 3 squares a day, a phone in your room, a tv and any other convenience that you want.

Sad part is, they won’t jail you, just take your money and leave you to the streets.

lowandslow on November 6, 2013 at 4:55 PM

I guess it’s come to this: “You can’t fight city hall the Obama administration.”

BuckeyeSam on November 6, 2013 at 4:55 PM

If true this is disgusting.

But now the norm for the country that used to be the USA…

Skywise on November 6, 2013 at 4:56 PM

How can Obama change more crucial aspects of the ACA without a congressional amendment to the law? He is not the possessor of the “Divine Right of Kings.” This president is not just bending the law, he’s becoming a tyrant, and the congress is letting him get away with it.

stefano1 on November 6, 2013 at 4:56 PM

There are no longer any tangible benefits to being part of a union, so they must use the law and regulation to create new benefits.

A non-union automaker who decides to self-insure but outsource actual claims management must pay the tax.

A union automaker who pays the cost of the union’s healthcare plan will not pay the tax.

weaselyone on November 6, 2013 at 4:57 PM

He already bought them a car (company) and let them move in with him, so now health insurance benefits are the next natural step as a couple.

rogerb on November 6, 2013 at 4:58 PM

It’s beyond tar and feathers time.

BuckeyeSam on November 6, 2013 at 4:49 PM

That’s the damn truth. But somehow that’s unbecoming of a civilized society like ours. Politicians screwing the people they work for over, very civilized.

ncconservative on November 6, 2013 at 4:59 PM

LOL. Does the CBO have to re-score Obamacare after all the goodies are doled out to Barry’s buddies?

The special subsidies for congress and its staffers, the special tax exemptions for the unions, and all the other “gifts” from Obama that we don’t know about yet, are going to add billions to the taxpayers’ tab for this thing.

AZCoyote on November 6, 2013 at 4:59 PM

How can Obama change more crucial aspects of the ACA without a congressional amendment to the law? He is not the possessor of the “Divine Right of Kings.” This president is not just bending the law, he’s becoming a tyrant, and the congress is letting him get away with it.

stefano1 on November 6, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Congress used the magical words alot when writing the law:
“The Secretary shall determine/implement/regulate/etc”.

Congress outsources their lawmaking authority because they are idiots.

weaselyone on November 6, 2013 at 5:00 PM

From the November 1 entry of The Obama Timeline:

Lost in the headlines about Healthcare.gov glitches and the high cost of ObamaCare policies is the fact that American businesses will face, starting in 2014, an “Annual Fee on Health Insurers,” and a “Transitional Reinsurance Program Contribution Fee.” Many businesses—particularly smaller businesses—have no idea they will soon be hit with these expenses. One business owner tells The Obama Timeline that his company will be hit with an annual fee of $30,825—in addition to the $900,000 or so he now pays for health insurance for his employees. He asks, “How many employers, in my situation, will simply cough up $30,825.00? How may will raise the price of the widget they manufacture? How many will fire an employee worth $30,825.00? How many employers will simply drop coverage and pay the employer mandate fine delayed for 2014 but which will rear its very ugly head less than a year from now? How many will or have raised employee shares of premiums to mitigate these new fees? …As an employer providing quite good coverage, and having done so since 1980, I wish I had a dollar for each time I yelled ‘liar’ or ‘that’s not true’ since the ObamaCare debates were gaining traction years ago. Had the absolute truth been told to the American people, we would NOT be in the situation we are in. But then my expectation is unreasonable, to expect the TRUTH from a politician.” (For a business with 51¬-150 employees, the annual ObamaCare fee added by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois is 3.25 percent of the premium. Small businesses will be stuck with the fee, but organized labor has been pushing the Obama administration to exempt union plans.)

The business owner also notes that the group policy covering his employees will be up for renewal in mid-2014. At that point, he expects the premiums to increase dramatically—and the 3.25 percent ObamaCare fee will, of course, then be applied to that higher rate. He is also concerned about 2015, when the delayed employer mandate kicks in. If any of his competitors cancel their group employee insurance, they will have a distinct price advantage. That may force him to drop coverage for his own employees (to let them fend for themselves at Healthcare.gov), because his competitors will be able to undercut his prices in an effort to force him out of business. He concludes, “Only a few will admit that ObamaCare is destined to fail but designed to lead to total control of healthcare by government. Ask the folks what ‘single-payer’ really means. I weep for the future.”

Colony14 on November 6, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Raise your hand if you think the same Republicans who exempted themselves and their staffs will fight this.

kunegetikos on November 6, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Among Obama’s many false promises about Obamacare was this one:

“It won’t add one dime to the deficit.”

All these special favors and exemptions Barry is handing out like Halloween candy to his buddies are going to cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

Even the CBO won’t be able to pretend this law is “deficit neutral” once all these taxpayer “gifts” are added to the tab.

AZCoyote on November 6, 2013 at 5:07 PM

I knew the fix was in as soon as Trumka stopped bleating. “Just shut up and we’ll do it when the dust settles.”

PattyJ on November 6, 2013 at 5:08 PM

These thugs will get something and I will get nothing. I’m going to refuse to sign up. I think the federal prisons still give you 3 squares a day, a phone in your room, a tv and any other convenience that you want.

tmgrant on November 6, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Make your tax returns such that you get no refund and the can’t do jack about you not paying the penalty.

SirGawain on November 6, 2013 at 5:09 PM

That means all those insurance rates quoted by ObamaCare have to be raised to make up for the loss of revenue from Union members….and other waivered groups…

albill on November 6, 2013 at 5:16 PM

The GOP BETTER raise hell over this and do everything they can to stop it.

They won’t.

This guy really does think he’s king.

ncconservative on November 6, 2013 at 4:51 PM

He does.

Next

VibrioCocci on November 6, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Because it is too late to exempt union plans and only union plans from the 2014 portion of the 3-year tax (what they originally wanted, presumably with the hope that the extension will be for the other 2 years as well), they’re going to get the next-best thing – a union-only exemption from the other 2/3rds of said tax.

Steve Eggleston on November 6, 2013 at 5:16 PM

LOL. Does the CBO have to re-score Obamacare after all the goodies are doled out to Barry’s buddies?

The special subsidies for congress and its staffers, the special tax exemptions for the unions, and all the other “gifts” from Obama that we don’t know about yet, are going to add billions to the taxpayers’ tab for this thing.

AZCoyote on November 6, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Only if Congress votes on them, which is but one of the reasons all the goodies are being doled out administratively.

Steve Eggleston on November 6, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Make your tax returns such that you get no refund and the can’t do jack about you not paying the penalty.

SirGawain on November 6, 2013 at 5:09 PM

Careful on giving that advice. They still can assess penalties and interest on the tax you owe.

lowandslow on November 6, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Of course they are; been saying this since the beginning, even when the WH said ‘no’; in fact, I recall suggesting that the ‘no’ was for show, and that the waiver itself would likely come about fairly quietly. If anyone thought the Dems would *not* find a way to make an exception for Big Labor, they just weren’t thinking it all the way through.

Midas on November 6, 2013 at 5:24 PM

Make your tax returns such that you get no refund and the can’t do jack about you not paying the penalty.

SirGawain on November 6, 2013 at 5:09 PM

Careful on giving that advice. They still can assess penalties and interest on the tax you owe.

lowandslow on November 6, 2013 at 5:23 PM

And all it takes is either a few words slipped into an unrelated bill or a Tax Court Lawgiver-In-Black who doesn’t give a <expletive deleted> about what the law actually says (remember, in Tax Court, you are guilty until proven innocent), and you’re an instant felon.

Steve Eggleston on November 6, 2013 at 5:26 PM

It’s beyond tar and feathers time.

BuckeyeSam on November 6, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Yes, it is.

Midas on November 6, 2013 at 5:29 PM

So explain to me why I have to pay the ACA “Tax” while others are exempted from it ?
Where can I go to get MY EXEMPTION ?
.
Time for the courts to get involved.
.
Is it a tax for everyone – or not?

FlaMurph on November 6, 2013 at 5:42 PM

Nothing like King Barack to throw even more fuel on the exemption fire.

GarandFan on November 6, 2013 at 6:26 PM

Every Union Member should be asked to explain, every single day, why they are gettting special deals from Obamacare.

Every Union Member should understand how much their fellow Americans resent them for inflicting Obamacare on us with their votes, while they get waivers and exemptions.

Make a list of the Union Members you know and then schedule a time to talk to them about Obamacare.

If we all do this, each Union Member should have several of these conversations.

wren on November 6, 2013 at 7:17 PM

Every Union Member should be asked to explain, every single day, why they are gettting special deals from Obamacare.

Every Union Member should understand how much their fellow Americans resent them for inflicting Obamacare on us with their votes, while they get waivers and exemptions.

Make a list of the Union Members you know and then schedule a time to talk to them about Obamacare.

If we all do this, each Union Member should have several of these conversations.

wren on November 6, 2013 at 7:17 PM

It ain’t the rank and file at the local level, it is the leadership.

Murphy9 on November 6, 2013 at 7:34 PM

And the REB still enjoys about 87% approval among blacks. Hispanics vote against Cuccinelli because of a comment about rats and wimmins in Va are afraid that the Repubs are coming after their vajayjays. Since Conservatives don’t suffer from this kind of stupid can we please break off from these lefty morons? I can’t stand that I have to share space with idiots like these.

neyney on November 6, 2013 at 8:03 PM

ncconservative on November 6, 2013 at 4:51 PM

The corrupt morons in the GOP leadership will do nothing at all because they are getting kickbacks from the debacle and are just as crooked as the Dems. It is time for a real Republican Party, even if it means taking down the GOP. We must have a party that actually cares about this country and not about lining their pockets!!!!

flytier on November 6, 2013 at 8:56 PM

Exactamundo, Murphy. The members probably have no idea what their leadership, hacks every one, are doing. When I was forced to belong to a public union, we hated the stewards or whatever the heck they were. We knew they were bankrupting the state and electing radicals.

PattyJ on November 6, 2013 at 11:25 PM

Oh yes labor will get what it wants and then give Obama what he wants and back again.

Oh yes.

Consider it done which it most likely already was.

A put on.

Sherman1864 on November 7, 2013 at 3:51 AM

Unions are the spawn of communism, and the weapon of gangsters.

JackM on November 7, 2013 at 7:01 AM

Their wheels will get greased just before the election. That’s how it works for unions, doncha know.

Kissmygrits on November 7, 2013 at 9:11 AM