Senate GOP warns administration not to exempt unions from ObamaCare fee

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Senate Republicans have urged the administration to halt work on a regulation that would exempt labor unions from a controversial reinsurance fee under the Affordable Care Act.

The administration should not exempt unions without also exempting for-profit companies, charities and faith-based organizations, the senators warned.

“To think that the Obama administration would consider such an action that benefits one group over another can only be characterized as cronyism at its worst,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia BurwellSylvia Mathews BurwellOvernight Healthcare: GOP chairman to introduce pre-existing condition bill ObamaCare enrollment hits 11.5M for 2017 Obama, Dems eyeing strategy to defend ObamaCare MORE.

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“The regulatory process is meant to implement the law as written, not as the administration wishes it were,” they wrote. “If the law will unfairly hurt certain groups, it should be repealed or amended through Congress.”

Twenty-one Republicans signed the letter, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellWarren builds her brand with 2020 down the road AACR’s march on Washington Poll: Dems have enthusiasm edge for 2018 MORE (Ky.), Sen. John McCainJohn McCainTrump wall faces skepticism on border No Congress members along Mexico border support funding Trump's wall Treasury won’t grant Exxon drilling waiver for Russia MORE (Ariz.) and Senate Republican Policy Conference Chairman John BarrassoJohn BarrassoPoll: Sanders most popular senator in the US The animal advocate Trump climate move risks unraveling Paris commitments MORE (Wyo.).

The Department of Health and Human Services indicated earlier this month that it was mulling a proposal to exempt some union health plans from the reinsurance fee, a tax intended to stabilize the premiums of health plans available through the federal exchanges.

The rulemaking would exempt Taft-Hartley union health plans, which cover about 26 million people, according to a Senate GOP estimate.

Unions called for eliminating the fee at the AFL-CIO’s convention in September.

The Associated Press reported last month that Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidWarren builds her brand with 2020 down the road 'Tuesday Group' turncoats must use recess to regroup on ObamaCare Dem senator says his party will restore 60-vote Supreme Court filibuster MORE (D-Nev.) proposed delaying the fee as part of a deal to reopen the federal government and raise the debt limit but McConnell balked.

The fee is likely to cost larger organizations millions of dollars.

“The regulation makes no justification as to why union members should be exempted from this fee while other similarly situated organizations (and, ultimately, their beneficiaries) must continue to pay it,” the GOP lawmakers wrote.

Republicans estimate the fee will cost $63 per covered life in 2014.