IBEW Tells Capitol Hill: ‘Let us Keep Our Healthcare’
July 11, 2013
Electrical workers are raising the alarm about loopholes in the Affordable Care Act that threaten to undermine quality coverage for more than 26 million Americans.
For more than 65 years, multiemployer plans have provided affordable, quality coverage for American workers. Found in nearly every industry, the plans allow small businesses to team up with other employers to pool risk and reduce costs in order to provide high-quality health care for workers.
But despite President Obama’s promise during the health care debate that Americans could keep their current health care plan, the law would end up forcing millions out of multiemployer plans because small businesses are exempted from the tax on employees that do not provide health benefits under the law.
“The IBEW is a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act because the goal of making sure every American has access to quality and affordable health coverage has been a legislative priority for the IBEW since our founding,” says Hill. “But our members and allies employers have worked hard for the healthcare they have, and Obama must move now to guarantee that his signature law will not cost them their coverage.”
The problem is that the ACA’s definition of a small business – one that employs fewer than 50 employees – exempts large parts of the American economy from the health care mandate. For example, approximately 90 percent of construction contractors employ less than 50 workers, which gives low-road companies in construction and other industries an incentive to not provide their employees’ health care, putting additional pressure on employers that do.
Workers who are not covered are eligible for a federal subsidy to purchase their own health care – an option not available to employees covered by multiemployer plans.
“Businesses that did the right thing all along will be punished while employers who helped contribute to the health care crisis will be rewarded,” says IBEW President Edwin D. Hill. “It goes against the whole spirit of the legislation to begin with.”
The IBEW are calling on the Obama administration to make regulatory changes so workers covered by multiemployer plans are eligible for federal subsidies – just like workers covered by for-profit plans.
“It is a question of fairness,” says Hill. “Multiemployer plans are genuine health care success stories and they deserve the same federal support private insurance companies get.”
Hill is also calling on Congress to amend the Affordable Care Act by lowering the employee threshold to level the playing field in industries dominated by companies with less than 50 workers.
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