Obama has had considerable backing from unions these last couple elections, and such political constituents were especially attracted to Obama’s overhaul of health care through the Affordable Health Care Act. Now, there’s some backlash over how such Health Care is actually panning out, and it could spell trouble for Democrats in 2014’s election.
One of their largest complaints regards workers under multiemployer health plans, also known as Taft-Hartley plans; such workers may work temporarily or seasonally, and 20 million of them could be affected. Their current style plans cost more than traditional single-employer health plans, but with the stipulations Obama’s Affordable Care Act adds to that, such as requiring the plans to cover dependents to the age of 26, and eliminating annual or lifetime coverage limits and applying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, such plans may be dropped entirely.
“We’re concerned that employers will be increasingly tempted to drop coverage through our plans and let our members fend for themselves on health exchanges,” said David Treanor, director of health care initiatives at the Operating Engineers union, as reported by the Associated Press.
Bob Laszewski sees things a little differently. As a health care industry consultant, he says the things the unions are really concerned about are that “a lot of these labor contracts [they’ve been plugging for] are very expensive, and now employers are going to have an alternative to very expensive labor health benefits.”
“If the workers can get benefits that are as good through Obamacare in the exchanges, then why do you need a union? In my mind, what the unions are fearing is that workers for the first time can get very good health benefits from a subsidized cost someplace other than the employer.” Laszewski thinks union plans would not drop out all at once, nevertheless.
Whatever the case, the ire of unions may affect the elections of 2014. Unions may resent that their own plans can now be skipped over by employers, even though they usually offer better coverage and lower premiums.
“It’s not favoritism. We want to be treated fairly,” said Joe Hanson, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. “We would expect more help from this administration.”
He also said that “It makes an untruth out what the president said – that if you like your insurance, you could keep it. That is not going to be true for millions of workers now.”
Assuaging such concerns and doing some damage control is the next order of business for Democrats.