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GOP plans to block Obamacare tax subsidies to unions

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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Senate Republicans have introduced a bill that would prevent the administration from extending Obamacare subsidies to union members who already receive health coverage.

Unions have been urging the Obama administration to extend subsidies to their members who are ineligible because they already have access to affordable employer-sponsored insurance, thanks to the Taft-Hartley Act.

Extending tax subsidies to Taft-Hartley covered union members and their families would add 3 million to insurance rolls and cost taxpayers $187 billion over ten years. This would be on top of other subsidies that unions already receive.

“The unions are clearly seeking a way around the law and want a special fix that would apply to them and them only,” Sen. John Thune said on the Senate floor. Thune’s Union Bailout Prevention Act would prevent the Obama administration from extending tax subsidies to union members already covered by Taft-Hartley health plans.

“It’s is not fair to carve out groups of people at the conclusion or detriment of other Americans who would be unfairly impacted by that carve-out,” Thune added. “They are trying to get a special deal.”

Unions provided money and organization to help President Obama win both his elections, but they are now at odds with the administration over Obamacare details.

“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,” Jimmy Hoffa Jr. of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and other union heads wrote to Democratic leadership. “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.”

Union leaders also argue that the health law would “destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class” because Obamacare incentivizes employers to keep their employees working under 30 hours a week to skirt insurance requirements under the law.

“And finally, even though non-profit plans like ours won’t receive the same subsidies as for-profit plans, they’ll be taxed to pay for those subsidies,” the union leaders wrote. “Taken together, these restrictions will make non-profit plans like ours unsustainable, and will undermine the health-care market of viable alternatives to the big health insurance companies.”

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