By Alexander Bolton - 11/14/13 12:51 PM EST
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 Burwell.
Twenty-one Republicans signed the letter, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and Senate Republican Policy Conference Chairman John Barrasso (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 Reid (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.