FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
ObamaCare: The Chickens Come Home to Roost…
By now, most Americans know how hard union bosses pushed, tugged, bullied and threatened, using tens of millions of their members’ money on advertising and lobbying, all to get health care reform passed. Most Americans also remember (though many did not believe) the promises that health care reform would make health care “affordable for all.”
And no one can forget how the legislation was sold to Americans:
The Chairmen of the three Committees with jurisdiction over health policy in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced comprehensive health care reform legislation today that will reduce out-of-control costs, encourage competition among insurance plans to improve choices for patients, and expand access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans.
Well, on March 23rd (not quite six months ago), the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law. That same day, a jubilant Andy Stern even recorded this video for his SEIU members, congratulating them on how the SEIU “changed America forever.”
That was then…
The Chickens Start to Come Home (aka the Law of Unintended Consequences)
Almost immediately after the passage of what is now called “ObamaCare,” like a pebble thrown into calm waters, waves began to develop. Karma.
The first sign of trouble began when a number of companies began taking hundreds of millions of dollars ($1 billion in AT&T’s case) in write downs due to the projected cost of ObamaCare, making Congress and the Administration furious. In fact, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) was so furious that he ordered a show-trial hearing to be held and then he abruptly cancelled it. It soon became clear why, as noted by the Daily Caller [emphasis added]:
Publicly, Waxman said the investigation showed the companies’ disclosures were properly filed. But a new report from committee Republicans reveals the documents Waxman obtained included embarrassing evidence that the health-care law could drive up insurance premiums and force employers to dump employees from their health plans.
“Turns out Obamacare means if you like your health plan you can lose it. The president didn’t have to actually strong-arm companies into dumping their employee health insurance because his bill carried financial incentives to virtually guarantee that result,” Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Rep. Joe Barton, Texas Republican, said.
Most significantly, documents unearthed by the investigation highlight companies that are considering dumping employees from their current health-care plans in the face of new costs from the health-care law. President Obama repeatedly promised his health-care law would let Americans keep their current insurance if they’re happy with it.
The dumping begins…
Over the past couple of weeks, months after Henry Waxman’s initial embarrassment, a big problem has begun to emerge for the Democrats who worked so hard to pass ObamaCare. News has begun to break that companies are, in fact, beginning to dump their employees (or retirees) health care benefits.
- WSJ: 3M Co. confirmed it would eventually stop offering its health-insurance plan to retirees, citing the federal health overhaul as a factor.
- WSJ: McDonald’s Corp. has warned federal regulators that it could drop its health insurance plan for nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers unless regulators waive a new requirement of the U.S. health overhaul.
And then, the strangest thing happened. ObamaCare’s purported benefits and savings evaporated and, due to the rules imposed by ObamaCare, costs have begun to soar. This prompted the Department of Health and Human Services to grant waivers to those companies and groups:
Nearly a million workers won’t get a consumer protection in the U.S. health reform law meant to cap insurance costs because the government exempted their employers.
Thirty companies and organizations, including McDonald’s (MCD) and Jack in the Box (JACK), won’t be required to raise the minimum annual benefit included in low-cost health plans, which are often used to cover part-time or low-wage employees.
The Department of Health and Human Services, which provided a list of exemptions, said it granted waivers in late September so workers with such plans wouldn’t lose coverage from employers who might choose instead to drop health insurance altogether.
At least five of those “companies” weren’t actually companies, but unions—including the United Federation of Teachers, the Painters’ union (IUPAT), and the Transport Workers. According to the New York Post:
The United Federation of Teachers — one of President Obama’s key political backers — is the biggest beneficiary of a White House sweetheart deal that will exempt certain outfits from complying with new health-care rules, officials revealed yesterday.
“Big labor spent millions of dollars pushing ObamaCare, which they made sure was stuffed full of union giveaways,” said Patrick Semmens, spokesman for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which represents businesses.
“So the fact that the largest waiver now belongs to New York teachers union bosses might be funny if the rest of America wasn’t stuck complying with the bill’s onerous mandates.”
Amazingly, the unions that had pushed so hard for ObamaCare are now asking to be exempted from its effects.
SEIU Members Begin to Pay the Price
Earlier this week, the American Spectator’s Jeffrey Lord wrote a piece detailing how ObamaCare is negatively impacting three hospitals in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Lord described how Cincinnati’s Catholic Healthcare Partners is putting up for sale three of its hospitals:
The three Catholic hospitals involved are: Mercy Hospital in Scranton; Mercy Special Care Hospital in Nanticoke, both in Kanjorski’s 11th District. And the Mercy Tyler Hospital in Tunkhannock, located in Carney’s adjacent 10th District.
The Cook announcement was big news in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The Sisters of Mercy had opened Mercy Hospital in Scranton, a major facility for the city, in 1917 — 93 years earlier.
According to Scranton’s WNEP:
Mercy Hospital in Scranton is up for sale.
Those who run the place and all other Mercy facilities in our area said Wednesday they are already in talks with organizations interested in buying.
Mercy Health Partners hopes to have a buyer by the end of the year.
Officials said there are numerous reasons for the sale. One big one is the heath care reform bill signed into law this year.
The potential sale includes Mercy Hospital in Scranton, Mercy Tyler Hospital in Tunkhannock and Mercy Special Care Hospital in Nanticoke.
They said much of that required investment is the result of the health care reform bill passed in Washington.
The CEO said it means the need for more spending and less federal reimbursements.
“Health care reform is absolutely playing a role. Was it the precipitating factor in this decision? No, but was it a factor in our planning over the next five years? Absolutely,” Cook added.
While the controversy about the hospitals’ sale still unfolds, there is one item of consequence that has been overlooked and that is the fact that all three hospitals are represented by the Service Employees International Union, 1199P. The SEIU, of course, was one of the biggest—if not the biggest—proponent of ObamaCare.
In one of the biggest twists of irony is the fact that SEIU members, whose dues were used to lobby for the passage of ObamaCare, are now seeing their employer put their place of employment up for sale.
The UFCW and Its Coming Crisis
Elsewhere, in yet another example where union members may start paying the price of their leaders’ dalliances into nationalizing health care, the United Food & Commercial Workers is girding its members for a contract fight because of increased costs imposed by…ObamaCare.
According to this letter, UFCW Local 75 is girding its members for potential battle with their employer over the costs of ObamaCare.
[via the Virtuous Republic]
Here’s the money quote:
While health care reform will expand coverage for many working people, this new law comes at a price. Bearing this in mind, Local 75 included increases to co-premiums as part of our comprehensive proposal. The company, however, has included a number of changes to increase your out-of-pocket costs, as well as higher co-premiums. We recognize that compromise is a part of the bargaining process and are hopeful that both sides will make efforts to reach a fair contract.
Translation for UFCW members: You will be paying more for your health care, thanks to ObamaCare (or, you may wind up out on strike). [Isn't that the 'change' you voted for?]
While the word Karma springs to mind, the reality is, ObamaCare is not even six months old yet. There will be many more stories like these in the months and years ahead.
Like all Americans who will be paying for this monstrosity, union members won’t be exempted forever from the effects of the legislation that they pushed for and we’re all paying for. Like others, union members are already beginning to feel the pinch of ObamaCare.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776