Buying Off The Unions To Back Obamacare
Religion & Liberty Online

Buying Off The Unions To Back Obamacare

As noted here last week, Obamacare is seen by some as an elitist system of health care, rather than the equalizing force it purports to be. This week, the news is that the nation’s unions aren’t happy with how Obamacare is shaping up for them, and the Obama administration is scrambling to find new ways to entice them to publicly support the Affordable Health Care Act.

Richard Trumpka, president of the AFL-CIO (the nation’s largest labor union), is saying that the Obamacare plan wasn’t thought through well enough, and is stepping back from fully backing the plan. He wants to see the 30 hour work week endorsed as full-time under the plan, mainly to help workers in industries like fast food. According to The Washington Times:

Critics of the law say the 30-hour cutoff has forced fast-food chains and other employers to trim employees’ hours to keep them at part-time status and avoid penalties tied to the law’s employer mandate, which requires companies with 50 or more full-time workers to provide health coverage or pay fines.

“That is obviously something that no one intended,” he [Trumka] said during a wide-ranging interview hosted by the Christian Science Monitor in Washington.

David Catron at The American Spectator decries the special treatment unions historically have received from Democrats, and this is simply another sign of that:

Union members already receive one subsidy, the tax break they get with their employer-based coverage. The new union demand involves multi-employer plans, agreements that unions have negotiated with entire industries rather than specific employers. According to this memorandum from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), such plans can’t be made available through Obamacare’s insurance exchanges. Consequently, union members enrolled in multi-employer plans are not eligible for subsidies offered by those exchanges. The union bosses want this changed so their members can receive a second subsidy.

It’s also been reported that James Hoffa, head of the Teamsters, and other union leaders wrote to Democratic leaders in Congress this summer, worried that Obamacare would “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.”

Congress has been granted an out for Obamacare; members can choose to keep their current subsidies or choose Obamacare subsidies. Since members of Congress and their staffs don’t qualify at this point for Obamacare subsidies, choosing Obamacare would mean large out-of-pocket expenses for them.

That takes us back to the “elitist” charge against Obamacare, and David Catron’s thoughts:

It vindicates a belief that many Obamacare opponents expressed about giving the government control over the health care system — government-run health care is inevitably politicized health care. Under such a system, the cost of one’s medical care depends on how much political power one wields. Thus, if you belong to a labor union that contributes huge amounts of money and volunteers to Democrat campaigns, or you’re a congressional staffer who helps write laws that empty the taxpayer’s wallet on behalf of the nanny state, you get special deals.

The Affordable Health Care Act is touted as being fair for all Americans, will cut down on waste and fraud, and allow businesses of all sizes access to the same coverage for their employees. But with the administration being courted by the unions, and Congress able to opt-out, it seems that “fair” depends on who you are.

Elise Hilton

Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.