Two union bosses are responding to the State of the Union by slamming the Obama administration’s refusal to meet their demands regarding the Affordable Care Act. As the WSJ reports, the presidents of UniteHere and the Laborers International Union of North America wrote an open letter to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, urging them to pressure the administration to extend subsidies to union insurance plans. They argued that without these changes the ACA could end up harming their lower- and middle-class members:
Since 2012, union leaders have complained that many of the law’s requirements will drive up costs for union-sponsored health-care plans managed jointly by unions and mostly small employers, potentially causing unionized employers, or even unions, to drop the plans that cover more than 20 million people.
They’re not the only ones who think Obamacare could have adverse effects on the working class. A new Kaiser Health tracking poll conducted January 14–21 shows that the ACA is less popular with the uninsured than it was in December:
Among the uninsured – a key group for outreach under the law – unfavorable views now outnumber favorable views by roughly a 2-to-1 margin (47 percent versus 24 percent). This is a change from last month when 43 percent of the uninsured had an unfavorable view and 36 percent were favorable. More of those without coverage say the law has made the uninsured as a group worse off (39 percent) than better off (26 percent). Despite these views, large shares of the uninsured see health insurance as “very important” and say they need it, while four in ten say they’ve tried to get coverage in the past 6 months, and half expect to get it this year.
Still, the last numbers in that summary show that Americans by and large want universal coverage, whatever they may think about the ACA’s way of going about it. And here the pervasive dysfunction that had been driving up costs and restricting access in U.S. health care before the ACA has yet to be addressed. The more expensive the system is, the harder it is to expand access. It’s past time for a more robust conversation on how to make health care itself—not just health insurance premiums—cheaper.