More Unions Have Second Thoughts about Health Care Law

May 21, 2013

Photographer: Paul Taggart/Bloomberg.

First it was the roofers union who had second thoughts about the health care law. Now other unions are expressing major concerns over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The Hill reports:

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) — a 1.3 million-member labor group that twice endorsed Obama for president — is very worried about how the reform law will affect its members’ healthcare plans.

Last month, the president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers released a statement calling “for repeal or complete reform of the Affordable Care Act.”

UNITE HERE, a prominent hotel workers’ union, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are also pushing for changes.

They took seriously the President’s promise he made in a speech at the AFL-CIO convention in 2009: “Let me repeat: Nothing in this plan will require you to change your coverage or your doctor.”

In an op-ed in The Hill, UFCW president Joseph Hansen writes about how insurance plans negotiated between unions and businesses are threatened by the PPACA:

But as currently interpreted, the ACA would block these plans from the law’s benefits (such as the subsidy for lower-income individuals and families) while subjecting them to the law’s penalties (like the $63 per insured person to subsidize Big Insurance). This creates unstoppable incentives for employers to reduce weekly hours for workers currently on our plans and push them onto the exchanges where many will pay higher costs for poorer insurance with a more limited network of providers. In other words, they will be forced to change their coverage and quite possibly their doctor. Others will be channeled into Medicaid, where taxpayers must pick up the tab.

Hansen also notes the perverse incentives in the law that encourage hiring part-time workers instead of full-time ones:

In addition, the ACA includes a fine for failing to cover full-time workers but includes no such penalty for part-timers (defined as working less than 30 hours a week). As a result, many employers are either reducing hours below 30 or discontinuing part-time health coverage altogether. This is a cut in pay and benefits workers simply cannot afford. For example, a worker making $10 an hour that has his or her schedule cut by six hours a week would lose $3,100 a year in income. With millions of workers impacted, this would have a devastating effect on our economy.

These unions join businesses and the general public that see the health care law as a confusing, costly burden. Hopefully this broad range of dissatisfaction will pressure Washington to advance health care policies that will expand access, improve quality, and lower costs. 

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