By Eric Boehm | Watchdog.org
Amid “growing frustration” with their friends in the White House, the AFL-CIO is preparing to approve a formal criticism of the Affordable Care Act that could call for congressional action to change some of the elements of the controversial law.
The AFL-CIO, an umbrella group for dozens of labor unions across the nation, will voice its support for the Affordable Care Act’s goal of providing health insurance for everyone, but will also lay out a “laundry list of complaints against Obamacare,” The Hill’s Kevin Bogardus reported Tuesday morning from the AFL-CIO’s national conference in Los Angeles.
The unions are upset that Obamacare may cause some workers to lose their existing health care plans.
“People have been working with the White House for a long time. There has been growing frustration that we haven’t made any progress,” Sean McGarvey, president of the Building Trades and Construction Department, told The Hill.
Valerie Jarrett, a close adviser to Obama, has reassured the unions the White House will work to address their concerns.
But if the administration cannot affect changes, the unions plans to “demand the ACA be amended by Congress.”
The AFL-CIO’s formal complaint against Obamacare would be the latest — and loudest, by far — condemnation of the federal health care law by union groups that were once vocal supporters of the administration’s efforts.
United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers was the first major union to openly turn against the federal health care law. In April, the 22,000-member union called for the law to be repealed, citing concerns that members may lose their existing health insurance plans.
“Our concerns over certain provisions in the ACA have not been addressed, or in some instances, totally ignored,” wrote Kinsey M. Robinson, the union’s president. “In the rush to achieve its passage, many of the Act’s provisions were not fully conceived, resulting in unintended consequences that are inconsistent with the promise that those who were satisfied with their employer sponsored coverage could keep it.”
In May, major unions in Chicago revolted against a plan by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former Obama adviser, who announced his intention to cut health care services for public-sector employees and dump them into the Obamacare exchanges.
There’s no secret why he did it: Retiree costs for public employees in Chicago are set to explode from $109 million this year to as much as $541 million by 2023, according to the Chicago Tribune.
And in July, the leaders of three major national labor unions — including James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters — sent a joint letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., asking for changes to the health care law.
Without changes, they warned, Obamacare would “destroy the very health and well-being of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans.”
“Time is running out: Congress wrote this law; we voted for you. We have a problem; you need to fix it. The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios,” the trio of union bosses wrote.
Many of their concerns — such as the coming extinction of nonprofit health insurance plans and the multi-employer plans used by many unions, along with Obamacare’s nasty side effect of causing employers to favor part-time workers over full-time employees — likely will be echoed in the formal condemnation being prepared by the AFL-CIO.
Under the rules governing the ACA, multi-employer plans will not qualify as health insurance and those using the plans will not be eligible for federal subsidies.
The AFL-CIO, like the Teamsters and other labor unions that have come out against the law, are asking Congress to make a special exemption for them.
Other groups, like congressional staffers, who were supposed to be covered by the Affordable Care Act, have been granted backdoor exits by Congress.
It seems many labor unions are hoping to score the same kind of escape from the provisions of a law they helped pass in the first place.
Eric Boehm is a reporter for Watchdog.org. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.