The Unions Turn on Obamacare

Just when you might think President Obama is getting tired of standing on the corner by himself over the Syrian crisis, here comes another blow.  This time it comes from one of his biggest supporters – the AFL-CIO.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was widely supported by unions back in 2010. However, this week the AFL-CIO, the nation’s leading labor federation, passed a resolution stating that while it supported the overall goal of Obamacare, the implementation of the law is ‘highly disruptive’ to union healthcare plans.  The resolution also states, “WHEREAS, the federal agencies administering the ACA have interpreted the Act in ways that are threatening the ability of workers to keep health care coverage through some collectively bargained, non-profit health care funds.”  The final draft of the resolution was watered down compared to an earlier version which stated that the AFL-CIO could no longer support the law and called for its repeal unless changes were made to protect union plans.

Resolution or Declaration?

AFL-CIO Resolution 54 reads like the Declaration of Independence.  The pernicious effects of the legislation are listed point by point.  It reminds me of the grievances the signers of the Declaration had with the King.  Near the end, the resolution states, “WHEREAS, this resolution is not meant to be a comprehensive list of the benefits and the problems of the ACA.”  Interestingly, there are very few benefits listed in the resolution.

The Grievances

The unions are starting realize what so many already concluded – The ACA is going to be costly and someone has to pay.  Among the many concern the resolution expresses are: many employees will no longer be able to keep their provider; workers will be punished for negotiating good healthcare coverage; taxes and fees will drive the cost of healthcare higher and ultimately punish workers; and employers will attempt to avoid the 30 hours per week requirement and cut the hours of workers.

Bad Timing

The AFL-CIO resolution comes at a bad time for the Obama administration.  The administration is preparing to spend millions of dollars to promote the ACA.  Some Republicans have urged the administration to avoid spending taxpayer’s dollars on ads for the law.  Currently, the Republicans in the House are struggling on what to do with the law. Some members, mostly associated with the Tea Party, are calling to totally defund Obamacare.

The Bottom Line

Obamacare is a mess and the problems will only get worse.  The administration has issued numerous waivers and delayed major parts of the law.  What I find interesting is that it took the AFL-CIO this long to realize the negative effects of the law.   Virtually everything the resolution indicates seemed blatantly obvious at the time the law was passed.  What I find more troublesome are the hidden or inconspicuous aspects the law.  The Secretary of Health and Human Services is given a wide latitude in the ACA.  The potential for abuse is deep. The current IRS scandal shows us that no government agency is beyond using power and fear in an effort to gain political advantage.

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