GOP blasts union 'bailout' under O-Care

A top Senate Republican is blasting regulations he argues will exempt unions' multi-employer health plans from a key tax under ObamaCare.

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (S.D.) pointed to a section of a 255-page regulatory filing and said it would amount to a "bailout" for the labor moment, which has grown increasingly dissatisfied with the new healthcare law.

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"Despite endorsing ObamaCare and working fervently to get it passed, unions are now experiencing the ugly reality of this law, and they want out. This exemption is crony capitalism at its worst," said Thune, who is behind a bill to block ObamaCare exemptions for unions.

The Obama administration recently indicated that it would propose exempting certain self-insured, self-administered insurance plans from two of the healthcare law's three-year reinsurance fees.

The policies that would escape the fees include the multi-employer or "Taft Hartley" plans commonly held by union members. Big business is also working to avoid the tax.

The reinsurance tax is meant to generate short-term revenue that will stabilize premiums on the individual market as sick patients enter the risk pool.

The tax applies to all group health plans, but unions and businesses say it will raise their healthcare costs while providing them no benefit.

According to past regulations, the administration only intends to exempt certain plans from the fee in 2015 and 2016. This would leave some groups on the hook for payment in 2014, when the tax will be highest.