Policy: Labor

What if Obama did give Obamacare subsidies to unions?

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Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll,Labor unions,Obamacare,Labor,Analysis,Subsidies

Avik Roy flagged an InsideHealthPolicy report Friday, reporting that union officials are in negotiations with the White House about regulatory fixes for union objections to Obamacare. Roy explains:

The issue at hand is the way Obamacare affects multi-employer health plans, also known as Taft-Hartley plans. These plans consist of employer-sponsored health insurance that is arranged between a labor union in a particular industry, such as restaurants, and small employers in that sector.

Workers with employer-sponsored coverage don’t qualify for subsidized coverage on Obamacare’s insurance exchanges. Those subsidies are designed for low-income people who aren’t offered coverage from their employers, and have to shop for insurance on their own. But the labor union leaders want those subsidies to also apply to their members with employer-sponsored coverage, even though they already get those benefits tax-free due to the employer tax exclusion for health insurance.

According to InsideHealthPolicy, Obama is working on “regulations to address the issue,” but it is not clear if the regulations being written would “satisfy union concerns.” Roy concludes:

It’s not clear what the White House can unilaterally do to address unions’ concerns. The text of the Affordable Care Act is straightforward; if you have gained coverage through an employer-sponsored health plan, you’re not eligible for subsidized coverage in the exchange…

If, suddenly, the 20 million people on Taft-Hartley plans were eligible for subsidies, Obamacare’s costs would skyrocket. If half of those Taft-Hartley enrollees gained $5,000 per year in tax credits along with their tax-free health benefits, we’re talking $50 billion a year in additional insurance subsidies for those individuals…

I would say that it’s inconceivable that the White House would seek to impose such a “fix” to Obamacare without the consent of Congress. But, given the other changes that the administration has made to the health law—of similarly questionable legality—we can’t rule anything out.

Roy is right: Republicans should not rule anything out when it comes to Obama’s implementation of Obamacare. His existing delays, exemptions, and waivers prove he could care less what the law says and will implement it as best it suits him.

Who cares if Obamacare’s costs sky rocket? It is already the law.

Unless Republicans are willing to defund Obamacare, and the House and Senate Republican leadership have made it abundantly clear that they are not, Obama can implement Obamacare however he wants and Republicans can’t do anything about it.

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