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Labor Unions Turning Against Obamacare


The Obama administration has made several changes to the Affordable Care Act during the implementation process, yielding to the concerns of different constituencies. But it has left one major special interest unappeased: labor. Union leaders want Obama to amend the ACA so that multi-employer union health plans qualify for subsidies. Right now, union plans don’t qualify, and labor bosses are worried that without subsidies they will have to push some union members off their plans and onto the exchanges. The Hill:

“We are disappointed that the nonprofit health plans offered by unions have not been given the same consideration as the Catholic Church, big business and Capitol Hill staffers,” Unite Here President D. Taylor told The Hill.

Unite Here was the first national union to endorse Obama during the 2008 Democratic primary, but Taylor warned there could be a backlash if the administration doesn’t meet their concerns…..

“The administration has found resolutions for a whole variety of issues, and the fact that their biggest supporters will be put at the mercy of the for-profit insurance industry will leave a very bad, bad taste,” Taylor said. “You can’t blame the Republicans on this one. This is a Democratic bill through and through.”

Obama is experiencing one of the many side-effects of cobbling together a coalition based on special interests. Back-room deals may ultimately allow a president to get a big bill like the ACA passed, but the coalition is inclined to unravel over time as circumstances pit the various factions against each other in a rush to secure special treatment. A health care reform with bipartisan support might be better able to resist special interests. But when you go it alone, as the Democrats did on Obamacare, you’re left more vulnerable to factions that might eventually turn on you.

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  • bpuharic

    “Cobbling together a coalition of special interests”

    Yeah. That’s the first time THAT’S ever happened in Washington

    Thanks for pointing that out.

    Healthcare with bipartisan support? The GOP considers the middle class to be ‘moochers’

    How, exactly, does one get support from a group that considers working people to be worthless?

  • wigwag

    “A health care reform with bipartisan support might be better able to resist special interests.” (Walter Russell Mead)

    What an absurd comment. Bipartisan support was impossible because the GOP refused to compromise or offer a reasonable alternative. The Republican Party is even more dimwitted on health care policy than Obama is on foreign policy. The fact that Via Meadia can’t figure this out doesn’t say much for the sagacity of this post or this blog.

    Obama adopted a health care plan chock full of provisions recommended by Republicans as standard GOP fare during the health care debate during the Clinton Administration. In fact Obamacare was authored by a Republican Governor who became his Party’s nominee for the Presidency. It doesn’t get much more bipartisan than that.

    Can the writers for Via Meadia please get a grip? Calling for the Republicans to participate in a bipartisan compromise on health care is about as realistic as asking Assad and his Sunni opponents to craft a bipartisan compromise to Syria’s problems.

    It ain’t going to happen and Professor Mead knows it. Which means that he either prefers that the old, crisis ridden system remain intact or that he is so clueless about the state of American politics that anything at all that he says about health care should be ignored as drivel.

    • Ed Maryellen Kmiec


      “Obama adopted a health care plan chock full of provisions recommended by Republicans as standard GOP fare during the health care debate during the Clinton Administration.”

      You are kidding, right?

      Recall that the bill was rammed through Congress before anyone could read it, much less understand it. Don’t you remember that famous line “We have to pass this bill to find out what’s in it”?

      • wigwag

        The Democratic Plan was single payer or, at least, a government run plan as an option; Obama quickly compromised on these democratic dreams much to the chagrin of his partisans. Republicans refused to bargain and offered no compromises of their own.
        The plan the Obama eventually settled on was the plan written by the man who would become the Republican nominee for President.
        Virtually every major aspect of that plan was considered a Republican idea during the Clinton health care debate.
        Universal coverage to insure that health insurance was affordable was widely touted by Republicans from the time of Richard Nixon to the time of Bill Clinton.
        Having private insurance companies at the heart of health reform was a Republican idea; Democrats hated private insurance companies.
        Health care exchanges, where perspective patients could shop for private insurance, was a longstanding recommendation of the GOP; that is, until the more clinically insane tea party cadres weighed in.
        Cost control obtained through competition between private insurers rather than government regulation was a GOP mantra, not a democratic mantra.
        Obamacare was invented by Republicans not Democrats; for the most part, Democrats, especially on the Party’s left opposed almost all of the provisions that have become central to Obamacare.
        There was a time that the GOP was a rational political party. Those days are over, at least for the time being. Obama can’t be blamed for the fact that the most recent incarnation of the Republican Party has come to hate the version of health care reform that a previous incarnation of the GOP actually invented.
        As for people in Congress not reading the bill; I would imagine some legislators did (or their aides did) and some did not.

        • bpuharic

          One of the best posts here in a long, long time

        • Loader2000

          Meade’s comment about bi-partisan support is
          perhaps, dubious. The bottom line is the
          President never had much popular or congressional support for his Health Care
          Bill and would have had even less if he had proposed a single payer plan. People wanted jobs in 2009 much more than
          they wanted a massive new healthcare plan who’s end result would be that small
          businesses would restrict hiring. If he
          had had lots of popular support, his team could have taken some time (say 12
          months) to craft a decent bill and then submit the fully formed bill to
          congress for amendment or passage. The reason
          Obama had to hand to bill over to hundreds of representatives from the House to
          cobble together is because he didn’t have much of a popular mandate for the
          bill and letting each representative dip his/her hand into the bill (each
          informed by their own special interests and lobbies) was the only way he had
          enough political support to pass the bill.
          If he had had a strong popular mandate, none of that would have been
          necessary. In short, in spite of lack of
          significant popular support, the president was determined to use what political
          capitol he had to ram an ill-conceived, patchwork, special interest ridden bill
          through congress in record time rather than use the bulk of his political
          capitol during those first 6 months to address job creation, which was the
          issue that Americans cared most about.

      • bpuharic

        They debated it for a year. How slowly do you think they read?

    • Loader2000

      A single payer plan is an unimaginative, tired idea and has
      all the efficiency/innovation killing incentives that Mead has pointed out on
      numerous occasions.

      A much better health care plan wouldn’t directly involve
      insurance companies at all. First of
      all, all healthcare subsidies to employers would end. Employer provided healthcare is one of the biggest
      obstacles to innovation and efficiency because it almost completely insulates
      individuals from the cost of their health care decisions. In place of employer provided healthcare, every
      person would receive a health care account from the government with a certain
      amount of money in it. In a given year,
      individuals could only spend their money at accredited health care institutions
      (how institutions would be accredited in order to insure small clinics would
      get fair treatment would be a difficult, yet solvable problem). The money in each account would be enough for
      a decent, cost effective health care plan, but individuals could choose a more
      barebones plan if they wanted.
      Individuals would get back half the money left in their account at the
      end of the year to encourage them to make cost-effect health care choices. Money to pay for this new plan would come
      from a moderate increase in corporate taxes.
      This would not be a burden on corporations since they would no longer be
      footing 2/3s of the cost of health insurance for their employees. The overall burden on corporations would be
      less in order to encourage hiring and capital investment. The revenue slack could be made up by an
      across the board 1% increase in tax rates.
      Also, tax law could be changed so that tax rates on capital gains income
      over 1 million dollars would be at the federal rate (instead of the capital
      gains rate) to provide lots of additional revenue for the new health care plan.

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