KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Obama Administration Turns Down Unions’ Request On Health Law

Organized labor had sought to get premium subsidies for workers who get insurance through union benefit plans sponsored by more than one employer, which are common in some industries.

The New York Times: Administration Rejects Union Pleas On Health Law
The federal government on Friday rejected pleas from labor unions for a dispensation from President Obama's health care law. The decision, likely to infuriate some of Mr. Obama's closest political allies, denies federal tax credits to workers who receive health coverage under employee benefit plans sponsored by more than one employer. Such plans are common in construction and other industries (Pear, 9/13).

The Wall Street Journal: Unions Won't Get Sought-After Change To Health Law
The White House said late Friday that it can't legally make the primary change unions are seeking to the new health-care law, a long-simmering dispute between President Barack Obama and one of the main backers of his signature domestic initiative. The announcement, a big blow for unions, followed an hourlong White House meeting involving several top labor officials, Mr. Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Labor Secretary Tom Perez and top Obama advisers (Trottman, 9/13).

Politico: W.H. Rejects Labor's Bid For Obamacare Exemption
The Obama administration on Friday told labor union leaders that their health plans would not be eligible for tax subsidies under Obamacare next year. A White House official said the Treasury Department has concluded that such an exemption is not possible under the Affordable Care Act. The labor unions have been asking that their union plans, known as Taft-Hartley plans, be eligible for premium subsidies the way plans on the new insurance exchange will be (Tau and Haberkorn, 9/13).

The Hill: Administration Rejects Labor's Request For Obamacare Subsidies
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 (Bogardus and Sink, 9/13).

Bloomberg: Unions Denied Bid For Tax Break Under Obama Health Law
The move marks a setback for the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest health federation, which earlier this week called for classifying multiemployer health plans run by labor in a way that would make members eligible for the tax break. The AFL-CIO, a staunch political ally of the president, endorsed the Affordable Care Act when it was enacted in 2010 (Efstathiou Jr. and Shepard, 9/14).

Reuters: Union Fail To Get Fix From White House On Key 'Obamacare' Concern
Top labor leaders left the White House on Friday after an hour-long meeting with President Barack Obama, still looking for a way to address concerns that "Obamacare" will hurt their members' healthcare plans. The dispute with unions - traditional allies of Democrats - as the Obama administration begins to roll out Obama's signature healthcare reforms is providing political ammunition for Republicans who want to defund or repeal the law (Rampton, 9/13).

The Associated Press: White House: No Subsidies For Union Health Plans
Low-income workers on union health plans are not eligible for the same federal subsidies available to those who buy insurance in the new state health care marketplaces, the White House said Friday. The decision is a disappointment for labor unions, coming shortly after top union officials met for more than an hour with President Barack Obama to press their case that subsidies could be extended to union-sponsored plans (Hananel, 9/13).

Fox News: White House Backs Off ObamaCare Deal For Unions
The Obama administration on Friday appeared to rule out giving unions a special deal to offer their workers extra ObamaCare subsidies, but left the door open to other changes after a private White House meeting with labor leaders who are concerned over the law. Earlier in the day, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka had urged the White House to act within a week to address labor unions’ concerns over ObamaCare (Fox News, 9/13).

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