WASHINGTON, D.C. | June 14, 2010 -
Almost one year ago President Obama declared: “…no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”
It was a bold promise, but one that evidently did not apply equally to all Americans. While unions can look forward to keeping their health care plans, most Americans will wonder why they cannot do the same.
Today, the Obama administration released a new set of government mandates in an effort to implement the Democrats’ government takeover of health care. And less than three months after enactment of the president’s health care reform plan, it appears the pledge that Americans who like their health care can keep it is just the latest in a string of broken promises.
“Over and over in the health care debate, President Barack Obama said people who like their current coverage would be able to keep it. But an early draft of an administration regulation estimates that many employers will be forced to make changes to their health plans under the new law. In just three years, a majority of workers—51 percent—will be in plans subject to new federal requirements, according to the draft.”
(Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, “Health overhaul to force changes in employer plans,” The Associated Press, 6/11/2010)
“In issuing the rules, the administration said this was just one goal of the legislation, allowing people to ‘keep their current coverage if they like it.’ It acknowledged that some people, especially those who work at smaller businesses, might face significant changes in the terms of their coverage…”
(Robert Pear, “New Rules on Changes to Benefits,” The New York Times, 6/13/2010)
While roughly 87 million Americans can expect to see changes to their health care coverage – including possible cost increases – unions can rest easy thanks to a carve-out for labor organizations, one of the Democrats’ favored special interests.
Buried in 121 pages of regulatory legalese, labor unions are mysteriously protected from onerous new federal mandates thanks to greater flexibility to have their plans “grandfathered” and exempted from the new requirements. Specifically, the regulations make clear that collectively bargained plans can switch insurance carriers without losing their “grandfathered” status. Yet non-union employers, including many small businesses, would be denied the freedom to shop around to provide their workers the same coverage at a lower cost from a different carrier. Instead, they would automatically lose their “grandfathered” status – which allows workers to keep what they have – simply because they changed insurers.
Susan Eckerly, senior vice president of the National Federation of Independent Business, described the regulations this way: “[T]oday’s latest rules on grandfathered plans mean small businesses will be left with even less choice and flexibility. Instead, they will be faced with the difficult choice of paying more to maintain grandfathered coverage, shopping for a new (and more expensive) plan or possibly dropping it entirely.”
So, while the administration admits its latest proposal will have a significant effect on small businesses – which the president has previously described as the “backbone of America’s economy” – it specifically provides greater flexibility for union organizations that represent less than one out of every 10 private-sector workers.
This is yet another development in a growing culture of union favoritism that promotes Democratic special interests at the expense of American workers.