Unions Break with WH over Obamacare

Add Labor Unions to the list of people concerned about the implementation of Obamacare. Labor is now 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) with a membership of 1.3 million are “worried about how the reform law will affect its members’ healthcare plans.”  Last month, the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers called “for repeal or complete reform of the Affordable Care Act.”

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters and UNITE HERE are “pushing for changes.” 

The Hill has published an op-ed by UFCW President Joe Hansen. Focusing on Obama’s speech at the 2009 AFL-CIO convention, Hansen says Obama promised union members could keep their insurance but “the president’s statement to labor in 2009 is simply not true for millions of workers.”

While the GOP has long criticized Obama’s claim that the Affordable Care Act will not require individuals to change their current health care plan, it looks like others are also realizing this is probably not true.

Currently, many Union members have multi-employer (Taft-Hartley) tax-subsidized health care plans. However Obamcare “does not provide tax subsidies for the roughly 20 million people covered by the plans.”  Unions will have no incentive to offer their members quality healthcare services without such a tax incentive. 

“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.” 

There is no telling how much the cost of Obamacare would rise if the Affordable Healthcare Act expanded subsidies to include multi-employer health care plans. 

Some Democrats have come forward to express similar fears about Obamacare. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) called the plan a “train wreck” and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has “expressed reservations.”

Unions leader aired their grievances earlier this month in a meeting with Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach.  “I was pretty blunt about it,” said Hansen. “I told them it was a very serious issue. That it was wrong. Taft-Hartley plans should be deemed as qualified healthcare providers and I also said it’s going to have political repercussions if we don’t get this fixed.” 

If the healthcare issue doesn’t get fixed, there could be some “problems” at the 2014 ballot box. Hanson said:

“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.” 

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