White House: No subsidies for union health plans

Associated PressSeptember 16, 2013 

WASHINGTON -- Low-income workers on union health plans are not eligible for the same federal subsidies available to those who buy insurance in the new state health care marketplaces, the White House said Friday.

The decision is a disappointment for labor unions, coming shortly after top union officials met for more than an hour with President Barack Obama to press their case that subsidies could be extended to union-sponsored plans.

Labor leaders have complained for months that without the subsidies, the Affordable Care Act would drive up the cost of some union plans, leading employers to drop coverage and jeopardizing health coverage for millions of union members.

The White House cited a Treasury Department letter saying there is no legal way for union members in multiemployer group health plans to receive subsidies. In a statement, the White House said it would work with unions and encourage them to offer their multiemployer plans "through the

marketplace, on an equal footing, to create new, high-quality, affordable options for all Americans."

That alternative is not ideal for unions. They would have to turn their private plans into public, competitive plans that are open to all workers, not just union members. And they would have to meet a host of complex new requirements under federal and state laws. It would take months to work out the details, and the plans would have to be approved by federal and state regulators before being deemed qualified health plans that could offer health insurance to the public.

The AFL-CIO declined to comment on the White House decision.

Earlier Friday, shortly after meeting with Obama, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters outside the White House that he hoped the administration would act soon to address labor's concerns over the new health care law. He called the meeting a "problem-solving session."

"We'll try to get it done in the next week," Trumka said. "It may take a little longer to enact everything."

Unions were among the most ardent supporters of the health law when it passed in 2010. Union officials say they still support the law's goal of reducing health costs and providing coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. But some union leaders have complained for months that it is not being implemented fairly. Those concerns spilled out this week at the AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles as the labor federation passed a resolution calling the impact of the law "highly disruptive" to union health care plans.

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service