September 16, 2013
By Neal Tepel
Labor leaders were at the White House on Friday September 13th to talk about concerns with health care policies. This followed a resolution passed earlier last week at the annual AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles critical of the Affordable Care Act. The resolution condemned the health care law as "highly disruptive" to union benefits.
AFL-CIO’s Mike Hall summarized the resolution as “expressing support for the goals of the Affordable Care Act but also addressing a number of issues about the ACA’s implementation, including the way the ACA treats multi-employer health care plans.” Terry O’Sullivan of the Laborers International Union of North America, told delegates at the convention that the ACA in its present form is likely to trigger unintended consequences and "needs to be changed and fixed now." National AFT union secretary-treasurer Lorretta Johnson called the ACA legislation “a work in progress.”
Union leaders are concerned that without additional subsidies, workers will switch from quality union plans to less-expensive options, creating a weakening of union health benefit programs particularly those under Taft-Hartley regulations. However, the Obama administration made clear at Friday's session with labor leaders that the White House is against giving unions a special deal that will offer their workers extra ObamaCare subsidies.
By the evening of Friday September 13th, the Treasury Department issued a letter stating that it does not see a legal way for those in multi-employer group health plans to receive individual market tax credits as well as the favorable tax treatment associated with employer-provided health insurance – concurrently.
Joining President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the meeting included AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, UniteHERE President D. Taylor, Teamsters Secretary Ken Hall, Plumbers and Pipefitters President Bill Hite, Electrical Workers President Ed Hill, UFCW President Joe Hansen and Building and Construction Trades Department Secretary-Treasurer Brent Booker.
Leaving the White House after the Friday meeting Trumka appeared disappointed when he said to the press core "We're continuing to work on problem solving."