White House poised to grant unions Obamacare subsidy: report

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The White House has tamped down the talk for weeks, but in the end, it’s looking as if union workers are getting a break on Obamacare.

“Weeks after denying labor’s request to give union members access to health-law subsidies, the Obama administration is signaling it intends to exempt some union plans from one of the law’s substantial taxes,” a report from Kaiser Health News stated.

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The Weekly Standard said the subsidy proposal has been buried — quietly — in rules that were issued for Obamacare’s rollout, and that move suggests exemptions for “certain self-insured, self-administered plans” for reinsurance fees that kick in between 2015 and 2016. The fee is at least $63 per member and is expected to raise $25 billion in three years.

Under the proposal, union members would get the exemption, but not insurance companies and those who are self-insured who hire claims administrators, Kaiser Health News said.

The AFL-CIO campaigned in September for dropping the reinsurance fee, adopting it as a key resolution at its annual convention. Kaiser Health News reported that it’s too soon to tell if the proposed break for union members would become adopted Health and Human Services Department policy, but all signs point that way.

“[The language] is how HHS often breaks controversial regulatory news,” said benefits lawyer R. Pepper Crutcher Jr., in a written statement quoted in Kaiser Health News.

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