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Top unions push for Obamacare ‘fix’

- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 12, 2013

The nation's top labor organization passed a resolution on Wednesday backing President Obama's new health care law but demanding changes in how it treats union members' multi-employer health insurance plans.

The AFL-CIO also reiterated the labor movement's desire to eventually see a government-run single-payer system.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has resisted the type of fiery rhetoric that other labor leaders have hurled at the Affordable Care Act of late. The Teamsters and others say their early support for the law has not paid dividends.

Instead, Mr. Trumka continues to meet with White House officials in a bid to gain subsidies for members who are covered by so-called Taft-Hartley health plans.

Mr. Trumka said "big insurance companies" will benefit from taxpayer support on the new state-level exchanges, where those without employer-based insurance can shop for plans this October and beyond, often with the help of government subsidies.

He said union members and their collectively bargained health care plans should benefit from the same type of premium support, but critics say they are looking for a sweetheart deal on top of generous employer-provided insurance.

The resolution passed at the group's convention "points out the key facts that must be addressed by the administration and if needed, by Congress," said Sean McGarvey, president of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department.

Union leaders pitched their resolution as a way to "fix" the law and prevent "unintended consequences" of the reforms.

Mr. Trumka and other union leaders are scheduled to sit down with Mr. Obama and other White House on Friday, according to the New York Times.

Republican lawmakers gleefully have noted that labor leaders who supported Obamacare in its infancy and typically boost Democrats like Mr. Obama are now turning against his signature health overhaul.

Sen. John Thune, South Dakota Republican, filed a bill this week that would prohibit the administration of granting any kind of special exemption for unions.

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