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Kline, Roe Seek Missing Regulatory Proposal Affecting Union Health Care Plans

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) today asked the Department of Labor (DOL) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to provide information surrounding a regulatory proposal that was recently posted and later removed from OMB’s website. A press report suggests the withdrawn regulation may have been intended to address union concerns with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

“Cutting a back room deal to meet the demands of union leaders will undermine public trust in the rule of law,” said Reps. Kline and Roe. “America's workers and employers deserve better than a flawed health care scheme that destroys full-time jobs, raises costs, and forces families to lose the coverage they like. On behalf of all working families, the labor community must put its weight behind an effort to repeal the law. Dismantling ObamaCare is the only responsible way to ensure workers and families have access to the quality, affordable health care they deserve. In the meantime, Congress will continue to hold the administration accountable for its implementation of the law.”

BACKGROUND: PPACA states only individuals who purchase a “qualified health plan” sold in health benefit exchanges are eligible for premium tax credits. As a result, unions have repeatedly expressed concerns with the health care law. At a convention in Los Angeles, California, members of the AFL-CIO approved a resolution describing PPACA as “highly disruptive” to multiemployer health care plans. On September 13, the Obama administration rejected union demands to extend premium tax credits to individuals in multiemployer health plans. However, reports suggest the administration may be considering other ways to address union complaints. On August 27, Inside Health Policy reported on a regulation related to the health care law that “vanished” from OMB’s website:

The Office of Management and Budget previously showed on its regulatory review web site that on Aug. 24 it received a Department of Labor proposed rule on “Health Insurance Premium Assistance Trust Supporting the Purchase of Certain Individual Health Insurance Policies.” The rule, which OMB said is ACA-related, also appears to deal with the exclusion from a definition of an employee welfare benefit plan, but this week the description vanished.

Group health plans are employee welfare benefit plans that are established or maintained by an employer, by an employee organization such as a union, or both. The Labor department on Tuesday (Aug. 27) did not return requests for comment as to why the health insurance premium assistance trust proposed rule and description were taken down.

Reps. Kline and Roe are seeking all documents and communications related to this missing regulation. The members request a response by October 2, 2013.

To read the letter, click here.


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