Unions Supported ObamaCare, Now Some Don't

Katie Pavlich

1/31/2013 1:20:00 PM - Katie Pavlich

Now that ObamaCare is actually happening, labor unions who made a big push for the legislation three years ago are no longer rallying behind it. Unions are seeing healthcare promises made by President Obama broken left and right in the form of higher costs, more bureaucracy, loss of doctors Obama promised they could keep, slashing of healthcare benefits and more.

Union leaders say many of the law's requirements will drive up the costs for their health-care plans and make unionized workers less competitive. Among other things, the law eliminates the caps on medical benefits and prescription drugs used as cost-containment measures in many health-care plans. It also allows children to stay on their parents' plans until they turn 26.

To offset that, the nation's largest labor groups want their lower-paid members to be able to get federal insurance subsidies while remaining on their plans. In the law, these subsidies were designed only for low-income workers without employer coverage as a way to help them buy private insurance.

During the crafting of ObamaCare, many labor groups begged for an exemption or waiver from the law and are still asking for one today despite publicly supporting Obama from start to finish.

In early talks, the Obama administration dismissed the idea of applying the subsidies to people in union-sponsored plans, according to officials from the trade group, the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans, that represents these insurance plans. Contacted for this article, Obama administration officials said the issue is subject to regulations still being written.

ome 20 million Americans are covered by the health-care plans at issue in labor's push for subsidies. The plans are jointly managed by unions and employers and used mostly by small companies. They are popular in industries such as construction or trucking or hotels, where workers' hours fluctuate. By contrast, unionized workers at big employers such as Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. tend to have a more traditional insurance arrangement run through only one employer.

Top officers at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the AFL-CIO and other large labor groups plan to keep pressing the Obama administration to expand the federal subsidies to these jointly run plans, warning that unionized employers may otherwise drop coverage.

FLASHBACK: AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka touts driving ObamaCare "down the Republican's throat" and praises Nancy Pelosi for pushing through the legislation.

It should be noted ObamaCare opponents warned about these problems before the legislation was even written not to mention passed. Over to you, Michelle Malkin: