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Labor Unions' Love Hate Relationship With Obamacare

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by   Samuel Morris               Godwin Morris Laurenzi Bloomfield

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Labor Union's Love Hate Relationship With Obamacare

 

Labor Unions' Love Hate Relationship With Obamacare
CONNOR D. WOLF

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AFL-CIO continued its opposition to the Obamacare excise tax Tuesday by encouraging members to sign a petition showing even the labor movement isn't happy with healthcare overall.

Some of the most powerful unions in the country championed Obamacare. They rallied members to support it before its passage and have fought for it since. When the U.S. Supreme Court decided Jun. 25 to uphold critical portions of the law, unions commended the decision. Despite their support, unions are not happy with every portion of the law and AFL-CIO is urging lawmakers to appeal the Cadillac tax portion.

"A new tax on health care plans is threatening to hurt working people and their families," the petition states. "Add your name to a petition to members of Congress asking them to keep the Affordable Care Act affordable by supporting a repeal of the health care benefits tax."

The AFL-CIO argues, however, that lawmakers should still keep the rest of the law intact. The 40 percent tax will impact many health care plans which the union warns will lead to increased out-of-pocket costs. Other union leaders both nationally and locally have also come out against the excise tax portion of the law. Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa calls the tax destructive.

 "One-third of employers who expect to be required to pay the tax said they would increase out-of-pocket costs for consumers in order to avoid the tax," the petitioned continues. "The vast majority of workers face deductibles, averaging more than $1,300 for single coverage. Even higher deductibles and other out-of-pocket spending requirements."

Support for the law is fairly widespread across the labor movement. UFCW, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) among others all defend it. Not long ago, though, unions were much more hesitant to support the measure. Teamsters, Unite Here and UFCW expressed their concerns to lawmakers in a 2013 letter.

"On behalf of the millions of working men and women we represent and the families they support, we can no longer stand silent in the face of elements of the Affordable Care Act that will destroy the very health and wellbeing of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans," the letter, which was obtained by The Wall Street Journal, details.

Additionally, during its 2013 convention, AFL-CIO demanded major aspects of the law be fundamentally changed while supporting the basic premise of national health coverage. Once the Obama administration started granting unions special privileges, their stance began to change.

"We write to express deep disappointment that your agency has approved a final rule creating an unwarranted special carveout benefitting certain unions over other Americans," a 2014 letter to the Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell from Senate Republicans declares. "We demand that the rule be immediately rescinded."

The letter, signed by 25 Republicans, followed a decision by the Obama administration to exempt some self-insured health plans from a reinsurance fee. The plans are commonly run by unions. The fee is designed to stabilize the individual market if too many sick customers sign up for insurance between 2014 and 2016.

"The American people deserve answers when their own government proposes to undermine their right to equal treatment under law," the letter continues. "Carving out some unions from a multi-billion dollar reinsurance fee, the cost of which will ultimately be borne by every other American with private health insurance, is unacceptable."



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50 N. Front St., Memphis TN  38103

901 528 1702    901 949 1144

 

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