Administration denies labor unions' request for Obamacare subsidies
With tens of billions of dollars in free money from Obamacare floating around, Big Labor sought to cash in on the bonanza by milking the government for subsidies for their gold plated health insurance plans.
Alas, for Obama, it wasn't a question of not wanting to help his labor friends. It was a question of legality.
The Obama administration on Friday denied a request from labor unions to have their healthcare plans receive tax subsidies under ObamaCare.
A White House official said the Treasury Department has determined that the healthcare plans used by many union members -- known as multi-employer or Taft-Hartley plans -- cannot be made eligible for subsidies that are intended to help uninsured people afford coverage.
"The Treasury Department issued a letter today making clear that it does not see a legal way for individuals in multi-employer group health plans to receive individual market tax credits as well as the favorable tax treatment associated with employer-provided health insurance at the same time," the official said.
Nevertheless, the administration said it plans to work with unions to make sure members can obtain coverage through the new insurance exchanges.
"The administration will work with multi-employer plans and other non-profit plans and encourage them to offer coverage through the Marketplace, on an equal footing, to create new, high-quality, affordable options for all Americans," said the official.
The rejection of labor's request was announced after President Obama and Vice President Biden sat down at the White House with labor leaders.
Labor officials attending that meeting included AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Unite Here President D. Taylor and United Food and Commercial Workers President Joe Hansen. Labor Secretary Tom Perez, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama, were also in the session.
Trumka told reporters he was hoping for "a solution" in the meeting, but repeatedly refused to answer questions about what labor officials asked for.
When a reporter inquired about Trumka's No. 1 ask, he quipped, "for you guys to stop following me," then left the White House grounds.
Labor's grievances with ObamaCare exploded into the open this week as officials adopted a resolution harshly critical of the law at the annual AFL-CIO convention.
Union officials said they are worried that employers will kick their members off the multi-employer plans and force them instead into the insurance exchanges, which begin enrollment on Oct. 1.
Union leaders said they were under the impression that the White House didn't want them to move forward on the resolution, which echoed Republican criticisms of the law.
Imagine that. Big Labor sees the same problems with Obamacare as Republicans. The irony is lost on the administration, who continues to insist all is well with Obamacare and things are going swimmingly on the state exchanges.
It took a while for the captain of the Titanic to realize the world of hurt he was in. Looks like the White House will follow a similar path on Obamacare.