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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Health and Human Services quietly giving unions Obamacare fix -- By Susan Crabtree, The Washington Examiner

The Obama administration has found a way to give unions relief from an Obamacare tax nearly three weeks after Republicans rejected a Democratic push to include the labor carve-out in the latest budget deal.

The Department of Health and Human Services quietly released a final rule last week that includes an intention to exempt some union insurance plans from a substantial new tax known as the reinsurance fee.

As part of Obamacare, the tax was supposed to be levied against all insurance plans to share the risk for insurers taking on the sickest patients next year.

But unions, which were among the strongest supporters of the Affordable Care Act when it passed in 2010, had pressed the administration for changes to the law, arguing that the measure is harmful to insurance plans accessed by more than 15 million union members and would raise costs.

Before last week, unions were upset that the Obama administration had failed to grant them a carve-out even after delaying a requirement that all businesses with 50 employees or more offer health insurance or pay steep fines to 2015.

In July, union leaders -- including Teamsters President James Hoffa -- wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., warning of “nightmare scenarios” for millions of workers if the law is not changed to accommodate labor health plans.

“Congress wrote this law; we voted for you,” they wrote. “We have a problem; you need to fix it.”

The AFL-CIO adopted a resolution at its September convention that it would seek a union exemption from the reinsurance fee, along with ACA tax credits for low-income members.

Deep into a rule governing Obamacare issued last week, HHS included language that the administration will propose exempting “certain self-insured, self-administered plans” from the law's reinsurance fee in 2015 and 2016, Kaiser Health News first reported Wednesday.

The oblique reference applies to some union plans that act as their own insurance company and claims processor.

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