June 29, 2015
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Most of organized labor exulted when the Supreme Court ruled last week in the King v. Burwell case that millions of Americans are entitled to keep the tax subsidies that help them afford insurance. But some labor unions expressed dismay that the Affordable Care Act’s benefits come at the expense of their multi-employer plans.
For example, Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, said in a statement that unions such as LiUNA have been able to provide quality coverage for years because they’ve bargained successfully with multiple employers but now that’s at risk because of crippling new costs and taxes imposed by Obamacare.
“Millions of workers in multi-employer plans, including LiUNA members, have had quality coverage for generations. They collectively bargained for it, paid for it out of their paychecks, and were never a drag on our nation’s health care system. Unless Congress fixes the ACA, their plans will be destroyed through new costs and taxes, such as the 40-percent so-called “Cadillac tax” and the transitional reinsurance tax. In just one year, without covering the cost of a single doctor’s visit or hospital stay, the transitional reinsurance tax drained $45 million from LIUNA affiliated health plans. The fees and taxes make the ‘Affordable’ in the ACA an oxymoron,” said O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan praised the ACA for enabling millions of Americans to have access to healthcare benefits, but he also called on Congress to fix it.
“The ignorance and the arrogance of the Administration and many in Congress is evident in the disrespect shown to working men and women in the writing and implementation of the ACA. The Administration bent over backwards to make changes for corporations and insurance companies, but has totally disregarded the issues affecting the working class. We call on Congress to seize this opportunity to fix Obamacare.”
Meanwhile, a New Jersey union welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision. Milly Silva, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, said in a statement that the number of uninsured in New Jersey has dropped by nearly half thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
“Nearly 200,000 New Jerseyans receive subsides through the federal exchange, and they can now rest easy knowing that their access to healthcare will not be jeopardized,” said Silva. “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the number of uninsured in New Jersey has been reduced by nearly half, to the lowest level of the past quarter century. Despite all of its legal challenges and setbacks, the ACA has exceeded all expectations and will continue to deliver on its promise of promoting access to quality healthcare for all.”
And Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President, called on Republicans to stop their assault on Obamacare.
“Now, it is time to move forward. The Affordable Care Act was an important step to expand coverage, but much more needs to be done if we are to achieve quality, affordable health care for all. We can start by expanding Medicaid for low-income workers in every state and making changes that will protect and strengthen the health coverage workers have fought for on the job. It’s also past time for Republicans—whether in Congress or the state capitols—to end their repetitive efforts to repeal or damage the Affordable Care Act,” Trumka said.