Three unions demand changes to Obamacare

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, “Obamacare has been wonderful for America.” It’s a gotcha quote that’s sure to be a mainstay for political ads in 2014.

However, three union leaders do not think the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is anywhere close to being “wonderful.” James Hoffa, head of the Teamsters, Joseph Hansen, head of the UFCW, and Donald Taylor, head of UNITE-HERE sent a letter to both Reid and House Democratic Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) last week demanding that Congress make changes to the law, or else it “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”:

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:

First, the law creates an incentive for employers to keep employees’ work hours below 30 hours a week. Numerous employers have begun to cut workers’ hours to avoid this obligation, and many of them are doing so openly. The impact is two-fold: fewer hours means less pay while also losing our current health benefits.

Second, millions of Americans are covered by non-profit health insurance plans like the ones in which most of our members participate. These non-profit plans are governed jointly by unions and companies under the Taft-Hartley Act. Our health plans have been built over decades by working men and women. Under the ACA as interpreted by the Administration, our employees will treated differently and not be eligible for subsidies afforded other citizens. As such, many employees will be relegated to second-class status and shut out of the help the law offers to for-profit insurance plans.

I’m glad these union bosses noticed how the law incentivizes the hiring of part-time workers. They should have heeded the warnings of businesses who said these years ago.

This seems to have been the unions’ health care reform strategy:

Step 1: Lobby for passage. It passes.

Step 2: Read it. It says what?!?

Step 3: Lobby for exemptions. Declare it will destroy the middle class.

How’s that turning out for them? Not too well. Union leaders should have paid as much attention to the bill as it was rammed through Congress as they did when working to elect Congressional allies.

This letter is another example of unions’ buyers’ remorse for Obamacare, the boldest being Kinsey Robinson, president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and Allied Workers, who called for its repeal. It’s also another indication of the widespread opposition to the law. This can be used as an opportunity for real reforms that reduce health care costs and improve quality and access.

For more on legislative and regulatory recommendations to improve the health care system, read the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Health Care Solutions Council report.

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