Issues

House Committee Requests Documents on Union-Friendly Obamacare Regulation

Republicans blast potential ‘back room deal’

Tom Perez / AP

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce is demanding that the Department of Labor surrender legal documents related to an Obamacare regulation allegedly designed to provide health care subsidies for union members.

The controversy stems from a rule that appeared on the Office of Management and Budget’s website regarding Obamacare. The rule, titled "Health Insurance Premium Assistance Trust Supporting the Purchase of Certain Individual Health Insurance Policies," was later removed from the site according to Inside Health Policy.

The House workforce committee and health, employment, labor, and pensions subcommittee are now looking into whether Labor Secretary Tom Perez attempted to use regulations to prevent tax hikes mandated by Obamacare on union health plans.

"Cutting a back room deal to meet the demands of union leaders will undermine public trust in the rule of law," Committee Chairman John Kline (R., Minn.) and Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R., Tenn.) said in a release. "America's workers and employers deserve better than a flawed health care scheme that destroys full-time jobs, raises costs, and forces families to lose the coverage they like. On behalf of all working families, the labor community must put its weight behind an effort to repeal the law."

The letter requests all legal reports and records drafted by the Labor Department regarding Obamacare’s effect on union health plans, as well as department communications with the White House and labor unions regarding the issue.

Unions have criticized Obamacare because their members’ Taft-Hartley health insurance plans do not qualify for federal tax breaks.

Three leading labor unions reached out to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) in July asking them to reform Obamacare to preserve union members’ multi-employer Taft Hartley health plans with subsidies.

"We appreciate the desire of union leaders to prevent the health care law from hurting their members," the letter states. "However, trying to sustain a fatally flawed law through executive fiat merely exacerbates the difficult challenges being imposed on workers, job creators, and families."

The Department of Labor has until Oct. 2 to comply with the committee’s request.