SEIU fights healthcare repeal after obtaining waivers from law

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is lobbying hard against the amendment offered by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) to repeal the healthcare reform law.

SEIU has sent e-mails to Senate offices urging lawmakers to vote against the proposal to unwind President Obama’s signature domestic initiative.

“A vote in support of this amendment is a vote to raise out-of-pocket healthcare costs for working families and takes away critical consumer protections provided to Americans for the first time,” SEIU urged senators, according to a copy of the e-mail obtained by The Hill.

The lobby informed senators that a vote for McConnell’s amendment would count against them on its legislative scorecard.

SEIU’s outspoken defense of the law has prompted charges of hypocrisy from Republicans, given that some of the union’s chapters have sought waivers exempting them from a key provision of the law requiring the phaseout of health plans with low caps on annual benefits.

Proponents of the law argue that some limited-benefits health plans should be exempted temporarily from phaseout because it would cause low-income and part-time workers to lose insurance or see their premiums rise.

A spokesman for SEIU referred questions about the union waivers to a fact sheet on its website.

According to SEIU, the overwhelming majority of its members are covered by health plans that comply with the law’s requirements.

Some of its chapters have obtained waivers, the union concedes, but notes the waivers were anticipated by Democrats who passed the law.

“The waiver process is a key part of healthcare reform because it helps ensure that workers won’t lose their employer-provided health coverage,” SEIU states on its website.

Meghan Finegan, a spokeswoman for SEIU, said thousands of low-income workers would lose their coverage if their plans weren't allowed to maintain temporary caps on coverage.

"These are very low-wage workers that would not otherwise be able to keep their coverage," she said.

This post was updated at 5:55 p.m.