Anticipating a move by the White House to appease unions, top House Republicans asked Congress‘ auditors to estimate how much it would cost to provide Obamacare subsidies to workers who use multi-employer health plans.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, Michigan Republican, and Education and the Workforce Committee head John Kline, Minnesota Republican, asked the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation to figure out how much taxpayers would have to provide to offset health premiums tied to these types of plans, which are commonly used by union members.
Their request comes amid reports the White House is mulling a way to accommodate union leaders, who over the summer lambasted the Obama administration for not offering the subsidies after unions supported the Affordable Care Act in its infancy.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was among several union leaders who visited the White House last week. In a wide-ranging interview hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, he said the summit focused on health care but declined to outline any specific proposals.
The president’s health care law will provide government subsidies on state-based health exchanges to those who earn 100 percent to 400 percent of the federal poverty level and do not have employer-based coverage.
Observers say unions are trying to squeeze a better deal out of the Obama administration by obtaining the subsidies, too, while union leaders say their Democratic allies in Washington are breaking early promises about the law.
Republicans argue the Obama administration is granting breaks to big business and others, but not ordinary Americans subject to the individual mandate, which requires most Americans to obtain some form of insurance.
In July, the White House decided to delay by one year, to 2015, the employer mandate requiring firms with 50 or more full-time workers to provide adequate health coverage or pay fines.
Last month, the Office of Personnel Management said members of Congress and their staff members, who now must acquire insurance on the state exchanges, can keep a traditional federal subsidy that pays for up to 75 percent of their premiums.
“In the more than three years since signing Obamacare into law, President Obama has unilaterally granted waivers, special deals and delays to unions and other politically-favored friends,” Mr. Camp said. “This special treatment is unfair to the American families and individuals who are burdened with higher health costs and losing the insurance they have and like as a result of this law.”