California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Unions Request ACA Changes, Say Law Would Damage Coverage

The presidents of the U.S.'s three largest unions have asked Democratic congressional leaders to make changes to the Affordable Care Act, which they say would wreak havoc on union-sponsored health coverage, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Unions Say Employers Would Drop "Multi-Employer Plans"

At issue are "multi-employer plans" -- coverage that is managed jointly by unions and mostly small employers -- which unions say employers would drop because of expected rising costs. The unions are seeking to have their lowest-paid members remain in such plans but also be eligible for federal insurance subsidies that now are intended solely to purchase coverage through the law's health insurance exchanges. Further, the unions are concerned that the ACA will result in many employers decreasing workers' hours to fewer than 30 per week to avoid the employer mandate.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the presidents of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers, and Unite Here wrote that unless changes are made to the law, the ACA "will 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."

The union officials applauded the Obama administration's recent delay of the ACA's employer mandate, which they wrote was a "huge accommodation for the employer community." However, they also wrote that in seeking changes to the ACA, unions have been "disregarded and met with a stone wall by the White House," adding, "We have a problem; you need to fix it."

A senior Obama administration official said that "suggestions on how to support the coverage offered by multi-employer plans" is welcomed (Maher/Trottman, Wall Street Journal, 7/12).

Electrical Union Launches Anti-ACA Ad Campaign

In related news, another union -- the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers -- has launched an advertising campaign noting the discrepancies between what President Obama promised in 2009 when lobbying for passage of the ACA and what is happening now.

Specifically, IBEW notes that Obama promised U.S. residents would not lose their current insurance coverage. In a statement Thursday, the union said the ACA "threatens the viability of multi-employer health plans" and "threatens to harm our members by dismantling" such plans (Chumley, Washington Times, 7/12).

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