Policy: Labor

White House in talks to ‘fix’ Obamacare for unions

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Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Obamacare,Labor,Analysis,AFL-CIO,Richard Trumka

Multiple reports confirm that White House officials have been meeting with labor leaders this week to address the latter’s concerns over how Obamacare will impact multi-employer health insurance plans, which many unions provide to their members.

Union leaders — most of whom applauded the health care law when it was passed — have sounded the alarm in recent weeks over concerns that the structure of Obamacare will severely penalize those plans. They have made several public demands that President Obamas and Congress to find some fix.

The administration initially resisted that because most fixes would likely cause Obamacare’s costs to soar even higher. Nevertheless, Obama’s chief of staff Denis McDonough meet with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Teamsters President James P. Hoffa and other labor leaders at the White House Tuesday, according to RealClearPolicy.com.

InsideHealthPolicy.com reports that “Democratic aides and sources off Capitol Hill say conversations about unions’ concerns are ongoing, and they say that the administration is working on regulations to address the issue. But, it is not clear if the proposed Department of Labor rule” would provide the fix unions want. Congressional leaders like Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., are also involved in the talks.

The problem is that multi-employer health plans are organized as nonprofits. Under Obamcare, they get no subsidies and are subject to penalties, raising the cost of the plans overall.

Unions fear the law will cause businesses to pull out of multi-employer plans as well as limit worker hours to offset the higher health care costs.

“Approximately 3 million laborers, retirees, and their families now face the very real prospect of losing their health benefits. This, I must remind you, was something that you promised would not happen,” Laborers International Union of North America President Terry O’Sullivan wrote in a July 19 letter to President Obama.

Other labor leaders have publicly expressed similar concerns and demanded action from Congress and the president.

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