AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
At its annual convention this week, the AFL-CIO passed a
declaring the Affordable Care Act "highly disruptive" to existing union health insurance plans, though it fell short of the calls from some members for repeal
The resolution asserts that the law, by offering tax credits to workers seeking insurance from for-profit and other companies in the exchanges, will place some responsible employers at a competitive disadvantage and destabilize the employment-based health care system. [...]
Union leaders note that under the law, workers whose family income is less than four times the poverty line will qualify for subsidies in the form of tax credits to obtain health insurance in the exchanges, with insurance sold by for-profit, nonprofit and cooperative companies. The union leaders say they want similar treatment—for unionized workers to qualify for those tax credits to help finance their Taft-Hartley insurance plans, which covers about 20 million workers and retirees.
“We just want to be treated like equals—we don’t want special treatment,” Mr. Taylor said. “An employer will say, ‘O.K., your plan costs about $10,000 a year. Let me get this straight. I only pay a $2,000 penalty if I drop you. That’s an $8,000 saving for me.’ That’s actually going to happen all over this country.”
But others doubt that unions would get such a carve-out because it would also encourage many nonunion workers to seek tax credits to help with their employer-based plans.
Unions acquiesced on a highly controversial part of the law when it was passed, the excise tax for so-called "Cadillac plans," including many plans negotiated in lieu of salary or other benefits increases by unions for their members. Labor didn't like that provision, but lumped it for the larger goal of passing some kind of health insurance reform. But their concerns about the potential for working hours to be eroded to less than 30 per week, and the potential for employers to ditch their health plans have increased. While the resolution offered basic support for the goal.
Labor would like to see the issues resolved by new rules, which the Congressional Research Service said in a memo earlier this year isn't possible. The changes would have to be made legislatively—not a likely scenario.
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