CFIF has joined a broad coalition of fellow conservative and libertarian free-market organizations in…
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Image of the Day: Peril of a "Buy American" Medical Mandate

CFIF has joined a broad coalition of fellow conservative and libertarian free-market organizations in opposing any proposed "Buy American" mandates on medicines, because they would place unnecessary sourcing requirements upon medicines and medical imputs purchased with federal dollars.  That is the last thing that Americans need at the moment, not least because it doesn't single out China in the way that some falsely assume, and the just-released coalition letter is worth reading in its entirety here.

In that vein, however, this image helpfully illustrates some of the logic behind the letter:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="574"] The Peril of a "Buy American" Order[/caption]

 …[more]

April 07, 2020 • 11:04 am

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Special ObamaCare Subsidies for Unions Might Be Next Print
By Ashton Ellis
Wednesday, September 04 2013
Dixit’s understatement notwithstanding, it is clear that the Labor department does not want to talk publicly about its push to rewrite ObamaCare on behalf of its union friends.

After a very public campaign of complaints saying that the Affordable Care Act (i.e. ObamaCare) would, among other things, “shatter… our hard-earned health benefits,” union leaders representing 20 million part-time workers are getting closer to their goal – a multi-billion dollar annual subsidy available only to them.

In the run-up to Labor Day weekend a report surfaced at InsideHealthPolicy (subscription required) shedding light on how Obama administration officials are engaging in backroom deals to appease the testy group of union chiefs.

“[T]he Office of Management and Budget previously showed on its regulatory 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,’” writes Rachana Dixit of InsideHealthPolicy.

“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,” Dixit continues. “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.”

Dixit’s understatement notwithstanding, it is clear that the Labor department does not want to talk publicly about its push to rewrite ObamaCare on behalf of its union friends.

The problem for unions is the health reform law’s treatment of multiple-employer plans, also called Taft-Hartley plans. Under collective bargaining agreements, these are employer-funded, union-administered non-profit health insurance companies that allow small businesses to pool resources and reduce costs.

Such plans are common in the retail and food service industries, and are the lifeblood for unions like the Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers and UNITE-HERE.

Along with giving part-time and seasonal workers access to health insurance year-round, multiple-employer plans also create a powerful incentive to join and stay in the union that negotiates and delivers the benefit.

But according to the terms of ObamaCare, multiple-employer plans are not eligible for federal subsidies. Those only go to workers who don’t get health insurance through their employer. The union-dominated insurance plans are, however, required to comply with all of the law’s costly new requirements. That makes them less affordable and thus less attractive to employers, who – depending on whether the employer mandate applies – may have an incentive to stop funding the plans and let employees qualify for a subsidy on an exchange.

If enough employers follow this logic, the result could be a death sentence for unions who have staked their primary justification for existing on the fact that they are a member’s sole access point for health insurance.

Sensing this, union leaders have unleashed a barrage of threats at the White House and Democrats in Congress. In a letter to congressional Democrats, James Hoffa of the Teamsters and others reminded the politicians about the financial and electoral help provided them.

Then they called in chits: “We have a problem, you need to fix it.”

Unfortunately for taxpayers, the “fix” unions want is to have their expensive plans qualify for ObamaCare subsidies, even though the plans will not participate on an exchange.

This would undermine a foundational principle of the health law by creating a massive exception just for unions.

ObamaCare insurance subsidies are designed to help individuals and families pay for insurance premiums available on an exchange. If an insurance plan accepts the subsidies, it also must accept the people who qualify for the subsidies. To be consistent, making a union plan eligible to receive subsidies should also entail making the union plan accept anyone who qualifies for a subsidy. But that would mean admitting non-union members to the plan, which eliminates the union’s leverage on requiring membership in the union to get health insurance.

If the Labor Department’s proposed rule becomes law, it will undoubtedly shield some unions from the effects of ObamaCare, but at an enormous cost. If only half of the estimated 20 million people enrolled in multiple-employer plans get a $5,000 per year subsidy, federal spending will increase $50 billion a year, according to calculations by health policy expert Avik Roy.

Of course, all this would be brand new spending without a source of funding.

In an ordinary environment, the lack of legal authority and money would stop the Obama administration from throwing the unions such a lawless and expensive lifeline. 

But luckily for the unions, there is a recent precedent for rewriting ObamaCare to benefit a well-connected group. Last month, the federal agency in charge of administering health benefits for Congress and its staff members decided – contrary to both the letter and spirit of the law – to continue subsidizing their health insurance, even as they migrate to an ObamaCare exchange.

That took a presidential-level intervention. With one of the Democratic Party’s most important constituencies agitating for special treatment, it seems likely to happen again.

Question of the Week   
Which one of the following pandemics caused the largest number of deaths in the 20th Century alone?
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Quote of the Day   
 
"In the end we were unprepared for what has happened, just as we were unprepared for 9/11. Administration after administration, over decades, gave lip-service to the possibility of a pandemic but made no real plans for all of the equipment necessary to be available -- we had no effective early-warning pandemic system, no stockpile of masks, no effective testing, no technology alliance for safety monitoring…[more]
 
 
—Mark Penn, Managing Partner of the Stagwell Group, Chairman of the Harris Poll, and Former Pollster and Adviser to President Clinton
— Mark Penn, Managing Partner of the Stagwell Group, Chairman of the Harris Poll, and Former Pollster and Adviser to President Clinton
 
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Have you or a member of your family contracted coronavirus or are having undiagnosed coronavirus symptoms?