For years unions were on record as calling for single-payer health care (Medicare for all). Their leaders knew that schemes that included private insurance companies would bite workers in the butt. However, the union chiefs believe in the Democratic Party above all. When a Democratic president insisted on ignoring single payer and pushed through a plan designed by the health insurance companies, the union chiefs meekly went along. Now years later when Obama’s health care plan is going into effect the union brass is raising the alarm, but to no effect.
The Forbes headline was “Obama To Labor Unions With Multi-Employer Health Plans: Drop Dead”. The pro-big business magazine was laughing at unions for pinning their hopes on the Obama to fix the ACA health care plan also known as mockingly as Obamacare.
Obama personally called Richard Trumka just before last week’s AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles asking him to oppose any resolutions against the ACA. Trumka did what he said and a very mild resolution passed asking for fixes. In return labor got… a slap in the face.
Years after passage of the ACA, labor officials started seeing the problems. The law requires companies offer health care if they have more than 50 full time workers . So bosses just got rid of full time workers and instead hire workers under 30 hours a week.
In August Reuters news had an article saying that a shocking 3 out of every four jobs created in the U.S. this year are part-time.
A tax was placed employers who offered the highest costing plans, so-called Cadillac Health insurance. No company wants to pay that tax to they put a full court press on to make unions accept lower quality cheaper health care plans.
And then there were the “Multi-Employer Plans”. 20 million workers who work for several different companies are covered by them. The union chiefs have discovered that the way the law is written it would be in companies’ interests to abandon these health plans and force union members to seek lower quality coverage on the new health exchanges.
In July the heads of the Teamsters union, the Food and Commercial Union and UNITE-HERE sent a letter to their dear friends in Congress Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. They said the ACA will “destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week”.
Obama’s Message – “No Can Do”
It didn’t take long for Obama’s people to give their answer. On the very day the convention ended officials told the AFL-CIO that they couldn’t do anything for them.
Though they had just delayed the law for employers for a year they couldn’t take any action to help on the Multi-Employer Plans (MEP). They did offer to help junk the MEP’s, to think up a health care benefit that would “offer coverage through the Marketplace”.
In truth there’s no real way to “fix” the 2,000 page ACA.
Some of the unions want to repeal ACA altogether. The Republicans would be happy to assist them.
So after five years the fight for health insurance either becomes “crappy health insurance for all” or “go back to square one”.
Can I very softly say, “WE TOLD YOU SO!!!!!!”
P.S. I made a big error when I first published this post. Obama’s ACA is not going to cover everyone, not by a longshot. The Washington Post reported on 9/8 that the best estimate is that even in 2023 there will be 31 million without health insurance. Thanks for the slap to the side of the head Single Payer Action.