Unions are frustrated the Obama administration hasn’t responded to their calls for changes to ObamaCare. Labor has watched with growing annoyance as the White House has backed ObamaCare changes in response to concerns from business groups, religious organizations and even lawmakers and their staffs.
- They say they don’t understand why their concerns so far have fallen of deaf ears. “We are disappointed that the non-profit health plans offered by unions have not been given the same consideration as the Catholic Church, big business and Capitol Hill staffers,” Unite Here President D. Taylor told The Hill. It’s an issue that Obama may have to face when he speaks to the AFL-CIO convention a week after Labor Day. Most unions backed ObamaCare’s passage, but labor argues provisions in the law could cut employee hours, unfairly tax their plans and force workers off their union health plans into the law’s potentially more costly insurance exchanges.
- The key issue are union members who many up many of the roughly 20 million people who use non-profit multi-employer “Taft-Hartley” health plans. Unions want the administration to change ObamaCare so that those plans are treated as qualified health plans that can earn tax subsidies. Under the administration’s interpretation of the law, the multi-employer plans are not eligible for the subsidies.
- Without those subsidies, employers may have the incentive to drop the plans and force workers onto the insurance exchanges. “The Democrats have completely given the store away to the for-profit industry,” Taylor said. “Without any question, we have a scenario set up that ObamaCare has turned all the money over to the for-profit plans and the non-profit plans will fade away.”
- Unions also argue that the law creates an incentive for employers to cut back on work hours for employees. Under ObamaCare, companies have to provide healthcare coverage to workers who work 30 hours or more a week — which could lead some employers to cut back on employee hours to avoid the requirement. An AFL-CIO official said the labor federation supports a change to ObamaCare that extends the employer’s healthcare coverage requirement to workers working less than 30 hours per week.
- Unions’ lobbying to change the law has grown louder as open enrollment approaches for the exchanges. “With open enrollment set to begin on October 1, time is of the essence, so we are working hard every day to find a solution to protect our members’ healthcare,” said Tim Schlittner, a spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). Schlittner estimates that about 500,000 members of the 1.3 million-strong UFCW use Taft-Hartley plans. “We continue to have a dialogue but we haven’t found a solution yet,” he acknowledged.
*Modified from a Hill.com article