At their convention earlier this week, the AFL-CIO passed a resolution slamming the health-care overhaul for which they once fiercely lobbied as “highly disruptive” to union health-care plans. It was the latest escalation of unions’ rising chorus of complaints about ObamaCare’s negative impact on their way of doing business, and an attempt to push the administration to acquiesce to their request that their multi-employer Taft-Hartley plans be eligible for the same subsidies that will be available to low-income workers without insurance plans via their employers. Otherwise, unions have been fretting, employers might be incentivized to simply move unionized employees onto the exchanges — and seeing as how the ‘great health care’ is pretty much one of the prime attractions of joining a union, you can imagine their disgruntlement.
Their campaign, however, has been in vain — for now at least. Via Politico:
The Obama administration on Friday told labor union leaders that their health plans would not be eligible for tax subsidies under Obamacare next year. …
“It’s black and white,” the official said — there is no way to make the union plans, which are considered workplace benefits and already receive special tax treatment for that status, eligible. …
The Treasury Department spelled out the details of the administration’s decision in a letter Friday to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.).
“The Treasury Department issued a letter today making clear that it does not see a legal way for individuals in multi-employer group health plans to receive individual market tax credits as well as the favorable tax treatment associated with employer-provided health insurance at the same time,” the White House official said in a statement.
The announcement came after a bunch of Big Labor officials met with Obama, Biden, and Labor Secretary Tom Perez at the White House on Friday afternoon, including:
According to the White House, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, UNITE HERE President D. Taylor, Teamsters Secretary Ken Hall, Plumbers and Pipefitters President Bill Hite, Electrical Workers President Ed Hill, UFCW President Joe Hansen and Building and Construction Trades Department Secretary-Treasurer Brent Booker attended the White House meeting Friday.
I’m not quite convinced that the White House won’t find some way to appease Big Labor less blatantly somewhere down the road, or at least throw them some type of bone — because unions are not going to be pleased about this, and they will threaten to throw everything they have at making this law look bad in a very public way — but for now, the answer is no.