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.