Lawmakers question why ObamaCare regulation ‘vanished’

A pair of House Republicans wants to know what became of a proposed Labor Department regulation reportedly designed to placate union concerns about ObamaCare.


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House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) and Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), who heads the panel’s subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, contend the proposal was posted on the White House Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) website, but was later removed.

A story published last month by Inside Health Policy reported that the Obama administration was working on regulations to address the union concerns.

Kline and Roe criticized the reported proposal.

“Cutting a back room deal to meet the demands of union leaders will undermine public trust in the rule of law,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

In a letter sent Wednesday to OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Kline and Roe are seeking answers to several questions about the proposal and details surrounding its removal from the OMB’s website.

Neither the OMB nor Labor responded immediately Wednesday to a request for comment on the letter. Later Wednesday, Labor Department spokesman Michael Trupo said the agency had received the letter and was reviewing it. 

Also Thursday, a group of 21 wrote a separate letter to Burwell, also opposing rules meant to appease labor.

“We write to urge that you not authorize the release of any regulations that will create a special carve out which benefits union workers at taxpayers’ expense.
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Labor’s problems with ObamaCare were made plain earlier this month in Los Angeles, where officials adopted a resolution criticizing the law during the annual AFL-CIO convention.

The grievances center on a Treasury Department determination that the healthcare plans used by many union members — known as multi-employer or Taft-Hartley plans — cannot be made eligible for subsidies that are intended to help uninsured people afford coverage.

Unions are worried that employers will kick their members off the multi-employer plans and force them instead into the insurance exchanges, which begin enrollment on Oct. 1.

This story was updated with additional information at 5:50 p.m.