Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Unions: bailing on ObamaCare?


All that we have foretold is coming to pass...

We'd be tempted to break out the wahmbulance for Big Labor but in this fight to repeal and replace the monstrosity of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), it's probably best not to antagonize anybody for previously having their blinders on with respect to the law of the land.

It would appear that after lobbying intensely for it and being squarely in the President's corner through the last two election cycles, Big Labor has seen enough of ObamaCare (before it has even been fully implemented) and is heading for the exits.

From The Hill:

Labor unions are breaking with President Obama on ObamaCare.

Months after the president's reelection, a variety of unions are publicly balking at how the administration plans to implement the landmark law. They warn that unless there are changes, the results could be catastrophic.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) - a 1.3 million-member labor group that twice endorsed Obama for president - is very worried about how the reform law will affect its members' healthcare plans.

Last month, the president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers released a statement calling "for repeal or complete reform of the Affordable Care Act."

UNITE HERE, a prominent hotel workers' union, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are also pushing for changes.

What has Big Labor freaked out, of course, is the now-infamous claim made by the President back in 2009 that if you liked your doctor and you liked your healthcare plan, nothing in the law would change that.

Many UFCW members have for their health care plans what are known as multi-employer or Taft-Hartley plans and according to the administration's own analysis, the law does not provide subsidies for the 20 million people covered by these plans. (We'll pause here to note the oddity of an administration analyzing a law it helped create after the fact, lending creedance to then-Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi's, also now-infamous line that the law had to be passed so we could find out what's in it).

What's unclear from the article, is if the law simply does not provide these subsidies where none existed previously or if they eliminated them as an umm... pre-existing condition. heh. Knowing what we do know about this law and how it was fashioned, it would not surprise us in the least if, in haste to get this thing out the door, they goofed up and added language that would eliminate those subsidies.

Either way, union boys are chapped that without those subsidies, their employers will dump them from their current health care plans and force the union members into the state exchanges with what the unions believe contain even more expensive health care plans but of crappier quality.

Here's UFCW President Joe Hansen:

"You can't have the same quality healthcare that you had before, despite what the president said," Hansen said. "Now what's going to happen is everybody is going to have to go to private for-profit insurance companies. We just don't think that's right. ... We just want to keep what we already have and what we bought at tremendous cost."

If the administration were to expand the subsidies to cover the Taft-Hartley plans, it's likely that the price tag for ObamaCare would rise, though it's unclear by how much.

So, how to fix this problem, if at all:

Hansen wants the Obama administration to use its regulatory powers to address the matter; a legislative remedy is all but impossible in the divided 113th Congress.

"When [the Obama administration] started writing the rules and regulations, we just assumed that Taft-Hartley plans - that workers covered by those plans, especially low-wage workers - would be eligible for the subsidies and stay in their plans and they're not," Hansen said.

This is also known as "Sebelius mode" in honor of the Health and Human Services Secretary who will be overseeing the administration of ObamaCare and what is "Sebelius mode" is if you goon up the actual legislation, screw it, you get, more or less, a mulligan with the writing of the regulations on the back end.

And now Hansen, not wanting to appear too critical of the administration he has in his back pocket...

Hansen, however, said he has no regrets about endorsing Obama or supporting the healthcare reform law. UFCW is a major Democratic donor, contributing to several of the party's candidates and giving to last year's convention in Charlotte, N.C., and this year's inauguration.


The union president said changes to his members' health insurance might lead to problems at the ballot box for candidates.

"What happens in 2014 could be at issue here. ... There is going to be a lot of disenchantment with how did this happen and who was in power when it happened. No matter what I say, that's going to be there," Hansen said. "They are upset already and it hasn't even taken effect already."

We know the unions are not going to turn their back on the Democratic party come the mid-terms, so we'd gladly settle, however, for them just sitting it out.



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