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Treasury to unions: No Obamacare carve-outs for you

Despite pressure from top labor leaders, the Obama administration said late Friday it cannot extend government subsidies tied to the new health care law to union members with multi-employer health plans.

The decision was outlined in writing to a Republican lawmaker who scrutinized the situation after Mr. Obama sat down with top labor leaders at the White House to discuss how the Affordable Care Act treats so-called Taft Hartley plans, which many union members hold.

Starting this fall, Americans without employer-based coverage can enroll in state markets, known as exchanges, where they can buy health plans — often with the help of the subsidies.

It appears that despite fiery rhetoric over the summer, the unions were unable to convince the Obama administration that their plans should benefit from the same type of premium support.

"Treasury believes, as suggested in your letter, than an individual who is covered by an eligible employer-sponsored plans would not be eligible to receive a premium tax credit," Alastair M. Fitzpayne, an assistant Treasury secretary for legislative affairs, said Friday in a letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican and ranking member of the Finance Committee.

Earlier this week, the AFL-CIO passed a resolution at its convention that calls on the Obama administration to change the health overhaul and reiterates their desire to see a government-run single-payer health system.

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.

It does not look like the legislation will be necessary, at least for now.

"The Administration is committed to implementing the ACA in a manner that makes health care more effective and affordable for all Americans, including those covered by multi employer plans," the Treasury's letter said.

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