The Biggest Obamacare Fix of All: Unions Want Subsidies Designated for the Uninsured

| August 31 2013
John Walker

AFL-CIO Boss Demands White House Action

When Nancy Pelosi famously said Congress had to pass the Affordable Care Act so we could find out what was in it, she forgot to tell AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to read the fine print.

More than three years later, Trumka is all too familiar with the details of Obamacare. He’s hopping mad. Now he wants taxpayer-funded subsidies for his millions of members who already have employer-sponsored health care.

Speaking to reporters this week, Trumka said the administration and Congress made some “serious blunders” in drafting Obamacare that should be addressed to quiet labor unrest.

“We’ve been working with the administration to find solutions to what I think are inadvertent holes in the act,” Trumka said. “When the act was put together, it wasn’t thought completely through. So we work on a daily basis. I’m hopeful we get something done in the very near future.”

Obama_TrumkaWhat Trumka really means is he wants something done now. And what he wants is a piece of the subsidies that the law says can only go to the uninsured.

Trumka’s outspoken criticism of Obamacare comes after three prominent labor leaders, including Teamsters President James Hoffa, sent a scathing letter last month to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. After complaining about various aspects of the law, including what they called the destruction of the 40-hour workweek, the union leaders delivered a clear political threat.

“We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care,” they wrote.

“We have also been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign, we have put boots on the ground, going 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.”

At issue for Trumka and other labor leaders are nonprofit health care plans administered by companies and unions. These plans provide comprehensive coverage and low out-of-pocket costs.

Under Obamacare, these plans do not qualify for federal tax subsidies that will be provided to individuals who buy health care policies on the federal and state insurance exchanges.

The president has been busy lately letting various interests off the Obamacare hook. Businesses got a one-year reprieve from the mandate to provide employee insurance. Congress got a total exemption from Obamcare compliance.

Even Obama may not have the chutzpah to rewrite the health care law to provide subsidies to unions. But that would defy political reality. About 20 million workers are covered under the nonprofit health care plans. 2014 is right around the corner.

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