- (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
Despite initially backing President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act, also known as Obamacare, which passed in 2010, the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers has reportedly become the first among unions that supported the law to call for its repeal.
In a Wall Street Journal report on Tuesday, Kinsey Robinson, international president of the union which represents some 22,000 commercial and industrial roofers, said some of its members were now in danger of losing their insurance coverage due to the increased costs of insuring individuals under the law.
"After the law was passed, I had great hope…that maybe the rough spots would be worked out and we'd have a great law," Kinsey said in the report.
But more than two years later, based on his conversations with employers, notes Robinson, these "rough spots" have not been worked out and they had been grumbling about the problem for months.
The union's current insurance plan has a $2 million lifetime medical bill payout limit for active members and caps that amount at $50,000 for retirees.
In 2014 however, those caps will have to be removed under Obamacare. The retiree plan is also expected to be more generous in order to provide minimum essential coverage leading to increasing costs, noted Robinson. The union is now contemplating eliminating the retiree plan.
In addition to those costs, health plans covering people with pre-existing conditions will attract a new $63-per-enrollee fee next year. Robinson also pointed out that when the law levies an excise tax on high value insurance plans in 2018, some of the unions' plans will be affected.
The Christian Post contacted the union for further comment on Friday, but Kinsey was unavailable for the day. He stressed in the recent report, however, that while he was hoping lawmakers or regulators would have addressed these concerns over the last few years, he had no faith it would happen now on the eve of 2014. So now he is asking for a repeal of the law or a complete overhaul.
Obamacare, which will become fully effective in 2014, will bring sweeping changes for both employers and consumers. It will become illegal for insurers to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and consumers will face a tax penalty if they are not insured.
Employers with 50 workers or more will be fined if they don't provide insurance. An estimated 30 million Americans will gain insurance under the law.
In a report in January, a group of America's largest labor organizations suggested federal insurance subsidies for their lower-paid members to offset increasing insurance costs brought on by the law. These subsidies under the law, however, are only earmarked to help low-income workers who have no employer coverage to purchase private insurance. About 20 million Americans are covered by health-care plans related to this discussion.
The Obama administration reportedly dismissed the idea.