The administration's failure to address the "devastating" impact that the health-care law has on multiemployer health plans has prompted many unions to abandon regulatory efforts to get the ACA change in favor of legislative changes, David Mallino, legislative director for the Laborers' International Union of North America, told Bloomberg BNA Feb. 5.
One of the more recent expressions of anger was a Jan. 27 letter from LIUNA
and UNITE HERE to Democratic congressional leaders in which the unions said they were "bitterly disappointed" with proposed rules issued in December that offer "virtually no assistance" toward employing the regulatory solutions for multiemployer health plans they've proposed over the past three years.
"Any representations from the administration that it has addressed our concerns or problems is false," Mallino
said that LIUNA
and other unions have been in "constant communication" with the Democratic leadership in the Senate and House, as well as congressional caucuses, since the administration announced that it will delay until 2015 the employer mandate, or shared-responsibility provisions, which would require businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to provide their employees affordable health coverage meeting minimum standards or potentially pay a penalty.
said the delay "crystallized" unions' opposition to the ACA's provisions, because it did very little to address their concerns.
The unions said in the letter that although the ACA imposes new costs and mandates on employer sponsors of health and welfare trust funds, the law would allow "irresponsible" companies to duck their obligation to contribute toward their employees' health insurance by sending them to the exchanges.
Speaking specifically about the construction industry, a major LIUNA constituency, Mallino
said that the vast majority of nonunion contractors have fewer than 50 employees, and so are exempt from the ACA's employer mandate provisions.
As a result, these small contractors can send their employees to the ACA marketplaces.
In their letter, the unions said the ACA unbalances competition in the construction, hospitality and many other industries.
The unions' letter said: "While responsible employers struggle to provide unsubsidized benefits, other employers will send workers and their families to the Health Exchanges for government subsidized coverage or government-paid Medicaid coverage, avoiding financial responsibility."
Proposed rules issued by the Department of Health and Human Services
in October, in which the agency said it intended "to propose in future rulemaking to exempt certain self-insured, self-administered plans," which includes some multiemployer plans, from the reinsurance fee, have also been labeled a union bailout, but "they haven't done anything to help us," Mallino
A month later, the HHS proposed rules that would exempt self-insured group health plans that don't use a third-party administrator from paying a reinsurance fee for the 2015 and 2016 benefit years.
said that the purpose of the unions' letter was to make sure that Congress "isn't misled into thinking that these rules are helpful for Taft-Hartley plans," he