Trumka: Obamacare Still Needs to Be Tweaked, Mistakes Were Made

Katie Pavlich

8/30/2013 9:00:00 AM - Katie Pavlich
President of the AFL-CIO Richard Trumka, who has been an honored guest at President Obama's State of the Union addresses and a major advocate for Obamacare in the past, admitted this week that Obamacare needs fixing.

“It still needs to be tweaked,” said Trumka, who pointed to the possibility that union members will lose their health insurance because of the inability of some union plans to qualify for federal tax subsidies.

“It still needs to be tweaked,” said Trumka, who pointed to the possibility that union members will lose their health insurance because of the inability of some union plans to qualify for federal tax subsidies.

“ObamaCare is a major step in the right direction but yeah, I said, we made some mistakes,” Trumka told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast.

“We have been working with the administration to find solutions to the inadvertent holes in the act,” Trumka said. “We are working to try solve problems, just like they tried to solve problems with employers, with large business and small business groups.”

Trumka's words come more than a month after presidents from the Teamsters, UFCW and UNITE-HERE sent a scorching letter to the White House demanding Obamacare be changed before it permanently destroys the 40 hour work week.

When you and the President sought our support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat. Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.

Like millions of other Americans, our members are front-line workers in the American economy. We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. We have also been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure this vision.

Now this vision has come back to haunt us.

Since the ACA was enacted, we have been bringing our deep concerns to the Administration, seeking reasonable regulatory interpretations to the statute that would help prevent the destruction of non-profit health plans. As you both know first-hand, our persuasive arguments have been disregarded and met with a stone wall by the White House and the pertinent agencies. This is especially stinging because other stakeholders have repeatedly received successful interpretations for their respective grievances. Most disconcerting of course is last week’s huge accommodation for the employer community—extending the statutorily mandated “December 31, 2013” deadline for the employer mandate and penalties.

Time is running out: Congress wrote this law; we voted for you. We have a problem; you need to fix it. The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios.

The question now is, will the unions get a big fat Obamacare waiver on the backs of taxpayers so long as they keep pumping money to Democrats? It wouldn't be surprising.

As a reminder, Trumka gloated after Obamacare was passed and was more than happy to brag about driving the legislation "down the throats of Republicans." He also thanked Nancy Pelosi, who famously said, "We have to pass the bill in order to find out what is in it."