August 18, 2019

Unions’ Misgivings on Health Law Burst Into View

But their conversation soon moved to what has become a contentious topic this summer: labor’s renewed anger over Mr. Obama’s health care law and decisions surrounding it, especially the postponement of an employer mandate to ensure coverage for workers and the potential effects of the coming health insurance exchanges on existing plans.

According to officials briefed on the call, the president voiced concern about labor’s criticisms, prompting the union federation’s leader, Richard Trumka, to promise that he would try to soften the harshly worded resolutions that several unions planned to push at this week’s A.F.L.-C.I.O. convention in Los Angeles.

Despite overtures on both sides — with Mr. Obama agreeing on the call to sit down with some union leaders to address their concerns at the White House, and Mr. Trumka initially hoping to quash such a public rift between the president and his party’s traditional allies — labor leaders criticized the administration and Congress on Wednesday at their convention.

While praising the overall legislation, the delegates overwhelmingly passed a sharply worded resolution that demanded changes to some of its regulations, although Mr. Trumka made sure to strip out some proposals that called for repealing the legislation.

At the convention, though, several labor leaders spoke their minds.

“If the Affordable Care Act is not fixed and it destroys the health and welfare funds that we have fought for and stand for, then I believe it needs to be repealed,” said Terence M. O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. “We don’t want it to be repealed. We want it to be fixed, fixed, fixed.

“We’ve had our asses kicked on retirement security and we know our health funds are under siege,” he added. “We ask the president and Congress to do the right thing for the men and women we represent.”

The resolution asserts that the law, by offering tax credits to workers seeking insurance from for-profit and other companies in the exchanges, will place some responsible employers at a competitive disadvantage and destabilize the employment-based health care system.

The administration and health officials have repeatedly tried to assure critics that the legislation will not encourage companies to dump workers from employer-based plans into newly created health insurance exchanges, even if the employer-based coverage stands out as more generous and therefore more expensive for companies and even municipalities.

At the convention, Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez’s cautious response to questions about the leaders’ concerns underscored how the complexities of the president’s signature domestic accomplishment and a longstanding goal of labor continue to present political difficulties for Mr. Obama.

In his speech before A.F.L.-C.I.O. members, Mr. Perez praised labor for helping enact the health law, but acknowledged that “challenges remain.”

During an interview here, he said, “The administration has been working to address questions and concerns raised by a wide array of stakeholders.”

Mr. Trumka declined to offer details about his telephone conversation with Mr. Obama, except to say: “We’re trying to solve problems.”

He and a group of union leaders also met late last month at the White House with Denis McDonough, the chief of staff, and Mr. Perez. Two other sessions have taken place since then with more junior administration officials, union officials said. The sit-down with Mr. Obama himself, Mr. Trumka and the union presidents is set for Friday.

Any erosion of health care benefits poses a singular threat to labor leaders, whose arsenal of tools to attract workers into union membership has dwindled alongside the decline of their organizations and their concomitant loss of influence around the country. Many unions and retirees have lost some benefits since the recession began, especially in the public sector as governments froze pension plans.

Steven Greenhouse reported from Los Angeles, and Jonathan Martin from Washington. Robert Pear contributed reporting from Washington.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/12/business/unions-misgivings-on-health-law-burst-into-view.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Case Study: A Bakery Is Relieved to Have the Employer Mandate Delayed

Rachel Shein: Courtesy of Baked in the Sun Rachel Shein: “I think most of my young and healthy workers won’t buy any insurance.”

Case Study

What would you do with this business?

With President Obama pushing back an important start date for the Affordable Care Act, giving companies with 50 or more full-time employees an extra year before they are required to offer health insurance to their workers, we decided to check in with Rachel Shein and her wholesale bakery, Baked in the Sun.

In March, Ms. Shein and her bakery, based near San Diego, were featured in a case study that looked at what she would have to do to comply with the new health care law. With insurance companies still developing their offerings for businesses like hers, Ms Shein was delighted to learn that the employer mandate was being delayed. “I was thrilled when I heard we had the extra time to watch and wait,” she said.

At the time the case study was written, Ms. Shein had been quite concerned about the potential effects of the law’s implementation. “We saw it as a significant cost to our business, one we hadn’t built into our business model,” she said. Her participation in the case study led to appearances on several TV news programs, including on Fox Business and CNBC.

Initially, Ms. Shein estimated that she would have to pay $108,000 a year to include the 90 employees who are not currently covered by her company’s health insurance. Her insurance broker now believes that when the final rates are published for next year, the cost will be higher than that.

Ms. Shein, though, will have to pay for only those employees who sign up for the plan she offers, and so far, the plans she has seen have not seemed terribly attractive. One sample plan, she said, included a $4,500 deductible, which Ms. Shein said “is too high for low-wage workers, so my employees may be better off going to the state-run market for individuals, which seems to have more options and better prices.”

Insurance company offerings for businesses like hers are expected to evolve, Ms. Shein said, and she hopes better plans and choices become available, as they have on the individual exchange. Right now, Ms. Shein doesn’t know the final costs or how many of her employees will sign up, so she has not been able to  estimate her expenses with any confidence. “It’s still very messy,” she said.

The delay is an opportunity for both companies and employees, Ms. Shein said, because it gives business owners more time to shop around and workers can take the year to see what is available on the exchange before they decide if they will take company-offered insurance.

Ms. Shein is also interested to see if the managers who are covered by her company’s insurance plan find a better deal on the state-run market. She said she believed all workers should have health insurance, and she and her husband have wrestled with the problem for years. In her experience, she said, many of her employees are resistant to coverage that requires an employee contribution. “They are mostly young and healthy,” she said, also noting that the individual penalty for not carrying insurance is low, “and they would rather have a bit more in their paycheck than health insurance.”

For now, she plans to focus on running her baking company. “The recession has made us more efficient,” she said. “We’ve automated more and focused on the most profitable parts of the business. I can’t control the insurance rates, but I can make a great espresso mocha scone.”


This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 17, 2013

A previous version of this post reported incorrectly that it was Congress that had delayed the employer mandate.

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/16/a-bakery-is-relieved-to-have-the-employer-mandate-delayed/?partner=rss&emc=rss

You’re the Boss Blog: A Bakery Is Relieved to Have the Employer Mandate Delayed

Rachel Shein: Courtesy of Baked in the Sun Rachel Shein: “I think most of my young and healthy workers won’t buy any insurance.”

Case Study

What would you do with this business?

With Congress pushing back an important start date for the Affordable Care Act, giving companies with 50 or more full-time employees an extra year before they are required to offer health insurance to their workers, we decided to check in with Rachel Shein and her wholesale bakery, Baked in the Sun.

In March, Ms. Shein and her bakery, based near San Diego, were featured in a case study that looked at what she would have to do to comply with the new health care law. With insurance companies still developing their offerings for businesses like hers, Ms Shein was delighted to learn that the employer mandate was being delayed. “I was thrilled when I heard we had the extra time to watch and wait,” she said.

At the time the case study was written, Ms. Shein had been quite concerned about the potential effects of the law’s implementation. “We saw it as a significant cost to our business, one we hadn’t built into our business model,” she said. Her participation in the case study led to appearances on several TV news programs, including on Fox Business and CNBC.

Initially, Ms. Shein estimated that she would have to pay $108,000 a year to include the 90 employees who are not currently covered by her company’s health insurance. Her insurance broker now believes that when the final rates are published for next year, the cost will be higher than that.

Ms. Shein, though, will have to pay for only those employees who sign up for the plan she offers, and so far, the plans she has seen have not seemed terribly attractive. One sample plan, she said, included a $4,500 deductible, which Ms. Shein said “is too high for low-wage workers, so my employees may be better off going to the state-run market for individuals, which seems to have more options and better prices.”

Insurance company offerings for businesses like hers are expected to evolve, Ms. Shein said, and she hopes better plans and choices become available, as they have on the individual exchange. Right now, Ms. Shein doesn’t know the final costs or how many of her employees will sign up, so she has not been able to  estimate her expenses with any confidence. “It’s still very messy,” she said.

The delay is an opportunity for both companies and employees, Ms. Shein said, because it gives business owners more time to shop around and workers can take the year to see what is available on the exchange before they decide if they will take company-offered insurance.

Ms. Shein is also interested to see if the managers who are covered by her company’s insurance plan find a better deal on the state-run market. For the rest of her employees, she said, “the individual penalty for not carrying insurance is still low, so unless some better options come out, I think most of my young and healthy workers won’t buy any insurance — either through me or the exchange.”

For now, she plans to focus on running her baking company. “The recession has made us more efficient,” she said. “We’ve automated more and focused on the most profitable parts of the business. I can’t control the insurance rates, but I can make a great espresso mocha scone.”

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/16/a-bakery-is-relieved-to-have-the-employer-mandate-delayed/?partner=rss&emc=rss