My conservative friends, on Facebook, love posting articles mentioning how much labor unions HATE Obamacare as if that is enough to demand it be repealed. Some Unions did send a letter asking for an exemption to the Affordable Care Act. Friday the White House announced it had denied the request. There is more to the story than you will see on Fox ‘News’ or read in the Wall Street Journal.
A particular issue of contention has been so-called “Taft-Hartley plans” — multi-employer health-care plans that unions run, and that aren’t eligible for subsidies under the terms of the Affordable Care Act. The plans cover about 20 million Americans, and the government treats them as employer-based health-care plans for tax purposes.
A recent letter signed by the powerful Teamster, UNITE-HERE, and UFCW unions warned that “under the ACA as interpreted by the Administration, our employees will be treated differently and not be eligible for subsidies afforded other citizens. As such, many employees will be relegated to second-class status and shut out of the help the law offers to for-profit insurance plans.”
The unions argue this will decimate membership in their plans as employers dump union workers onto public exchanges.
But the Obama administration notes these Taft-Hartley plans fail multiple tests the law sets up for insurance plans that receive subsidies. They receive the tax break given to employer-based plans and they often don’t follow “guaranteed issue” rules, meaning they don’t offer insurance to anyone who wants it. All of this disqualifies them from the insurance marketplaces and the associated subsidies.
The conservative media have been using screaming headlines like “White House looks to squash labor union revolt on Obamacare” but they either downplay the real state of union support for the ACA or ignore it completely to make it seem Unions HATE Obamacare.
Here is another explanation of the issue some unions have with the ACA:
One central problem with the law, in the unions’ view, is the threat it poses to the kind of health insurance their members enjoy today. Just as there are many different insurance companies, there are many different union insurance plans, about 3,000.
These plans are often called Taft-Hartley plans after the federal labor law that created them. And here’s the rub: The Affordable Care Act creates insurance exchanges that will present employers with a new alternative to the current union insurance.
“The unions think it will be cheaper for employers to drop out of the Taft-Hartley plans and go on the health exchange,” said Paul Secunda, a labor law professor at Marquette University School of Law. “This puts pressure on the unions who want to keep workers satisfied and make sure they have a reason to belong to the union.”
Here’s why the unions think that could happen. DeFrehn says 90 percent of the employers in these plans have fewer than 50 workers. While larger employers will face penalties if they don’t offer health insurance, these smaller employers would not. At the end of a union contract, they would be perfectly free under the law to drop coverage and encourage workers to buy through an exchange.
The exchanges could be an attractive option for another reason. In an exchange, workers with family incomes as high as 400 percent of federal poverty level would be eligible for a subsidy from the federal government.
There is also a concern how part time workers are treated under the law.
While the Politifact article says the statement that the ACA will hurt workers is “mostly true” it is more that it will hurt Union run health insurance plans who have executives to pay and systems to maintain just like any other insurance plan. I haven’t heard these Union plans having better benefits than plans on the exchanges. Yes, workers will gravitate to the cheaper plans but that isn’t hurting the worker as long as they get the same or almost the same level of coverage.
FOX ‘News’ will use this dust up to claim the entire health care reform law should be axed but the Unions who complained still support the ACA. They just want it fixed for their benefit.