Labor unions are unhappy with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The AFL-CIO, the Teamsters, and other labor groups are concerned that the ACA may cause their employers to drop their non-profit, union-negotiated, multi-employer health insurance plans (known as Taft-Hartley health plans—see also the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation's explanation) and force them to buy insurance on the health insurance exchanges. Labor would like to hold the President to the promise that won their support for the ACA, that if you like your insurance, then under ObamaCare, you'll get to keep it. Labor is thus pressing for an amendment to the ACA to make their non-profit plans eligible for the same subsidies as the ACA makes available for for-profit insurance on the individual exchanges.
President Obama hasn't said for sure if he'll go for that (he was going to speak to the AFL-CIO today in Los Angeles at their quadrennial meeting, but canceled to focus on Syria). But Senator John Thune is on the offensive. Echoing his cow fart crusade and Kristi's farm dust dust-up, Thune has introduced a bill to prevent the President from changing the ACA's rules to qualify Taft-Hartley plans for subsidies:
The AFL-CIO is frustrated that religious and business interests have won ObamaCare "fixes" while the administration appears to set aside union concerns.
But Republicans like Thune argue that making multi-employer plans eligible for subsidies would unfairly shield unions from what critics see as negative consequences of healthcare reform.
"Union leaders are now awakening to the ugly reality of ObamaCare," Thune said in a statement.
"Now that the full consequences of the Democrats' law are nearing, these same union leaders are seeking a special backroom deal from the White House" [Elise Viebeck, "GOP Bill Would Forbid ObamaCare Fix for Labor," The Hill, 2013.09.09].
So let me see if I have this straight:
- There may be a problem with ObamaCare.
- The Obama Administration may act to fix that problem.
- Senator Thune and the GOP want to block fixing that problem so people can face consequences.
Senator Thune makes clear that his party does not want to fix the Affordable Care Act. They don't want to change the law to work better because they'd have to change their talking points. Rather than doing that hard, honest work, they'd rather just let workers suffer.
But you know, Mr. President: you wouldn't have this problem if you had just listened to George McGovern (and listen now to Rick Weiland) and fought for a one-page health reform offering Medicare to Everyone.