The Electrical Worker online
August 2015

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Health Care Challenges

Late last June, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a provision of the Affordable Care Act that provides federal subsidies to working Americans unable to afford comprehensive insurance on their own. This was no minor deal.

If the court had struck down the subsidies, it would have put more than 6 million Americans' health coverage at risk, while making the rest of the ACA unworkable.

The Supreme Court made it clear: Obamacare is here to stay.

I applaud the Court's decision. Comprehensive and universal health care for all has been one of the labor movement's major policy goals since our beginnings. More than 14 million Americans have health care thanks to the ACA.

While still far from the universal coverage enjoyed by our Canadian neighbors, it's a big first step. It's why we supported Obamacare and will continue to do so.

However there are still fixes to be made — and the so-called Cadillac tax is one of the biggest.

It's a levy on what the government considers high-cost plans. In other words, plans that provide comprehensive and decent coverage. The kind of plans many of our members enjoy.

And with the tax kicking into effect in 2018, it's already creating headaches at the bargaining table.

Some companies are exaggerating its effects just to erode our hard-won benefits and dump additional health costs on to us. But it's true this tax is an unwanted drag on employers and employees that did the right thing by providing comprehensive health benefits.

We will continue to work on Capitol Hill for a legislative fix to the problem. But at the same time, many locals have found that switching to the IBEW/NECA Family Medical Plan has been a powerful tool to reduce health care costs and win better contracts.

The plan calculates costs differently than most plans, so it avoids the Cadillac tax, while providing the same or better comprehensive medical benefits we expect as IBEW members.

So I encourage all business managers to consider it a key part of their bargaining tool kit.

Since our founding the IBEW has been committed to providing quality health coverage for not only our own members — but for all working people. We will continue to do so — at the bargaining table and in the halls of Congress.


Also: Stephenson: On Energy, the Supreme Court Gets it Right Read Hill's Column

Salvatore J. Chilia

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer