The Administration of President Barack Obama is likely to grant exemptions to some labor unions that will open the way for Obamacare subsidies for members’ health plans, following ongoing complaints from union leadership that, in the early spotlight of the Obamacare rollout, the White House had temporarily ignored.
According to Kaiser Health News, the reversal of policy (or illegal executive revision of a Congressional Act, depending on your point of view) was buried in a slew of Obamacare rule tweaks issued by the Department of Health and Human Services last week.
From the Kaiser report:
Buried in rules issued last week is the disclosure that the administration will propose exempting “certain self-insured, self-administered plans” from the law’s temporary reinsurance fee in 2015 and 2016.
That’s a description that applies to many Taft-Hartley union plans acting as their own insurance company and claims processor, said Edward Fensholt, a senior vice president at Lockton Cos., a large insurance broker.
Insurance companies and self-insured employers that hire outside claims administrators would still be liable for the fee, which starts at $63 per insurance plan member next year and is projected to raise $25 billion over three years.
Unions, a key Obama ally, have increasingly criticized the Affordable Care Act as threatening the generous medical plans held by many members.
Eliminating the reinsurance fee was one of several resolutions adopted at the AFL-CIO’s September convention, along with giving union plans access to ACA tax credits for lower-income members.
The Obama Administration had angered its ardent organized labor base days before the Oct. 1 rollout by maintaining that the law, as HHS planned to enforce it, would not allow union members to double dip by receiving Obamacare subsidies after their employers had absorbed part of the cost of premiums through group health care coverage.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) cautioned anyone who would listen at the time that the Administration was merely waiting for the initial media spotlight to shine away from the Obamacare story before giving unions — one of the vocal interest groups the Chicago Tribune described as “special pleaders” — most, if not all, of what they asked for.