State Union Chief Worries Employers Will Dump Workers’ Health Plans Under Obamacare

The head of Tennessee’s chapter of the nation’s largest union federation is concerned the unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act will cause Tennessee employees to be “booted” to the federally run exchanges by employers looking to save a buck.

Gary Moore, a former Democratic state lawmaker who now serves as president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization’s Tennessee wing, worries that workers here, especially those employed by smaller companies in the construction business, may lose their employer-provided medical coverage.

Moore told TNReport recently he’s concerned that one of the ways employers in Tennessee might “react to the Affordable Care Act” is by altering “the way that they provide insurance coverage to their employees now.” Specifically, companies facing cost-cutting pressures might choose to drop the more expensive, union-backed health insurance plans and “dump” those employees onto the federal exchange, he said.

“Will every employer do it? Probably not. But, will some of them? I can almost guarantee that they will,” said Moore, who served in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 2005 through 2012.

Moore’s concerns about union health plans echo those detailed in the resolution passed by the AFL-CIO at the organization’s quadrennial convention in September. The Tennessee state chapter of AFL-CIO represents more than 60,000 Tennesseans who’re members of 37 international unions and 273 local unions, according to the organization’s website.

The AFL-CIO resolution, which Moore voted to support during the organization’s meeting in Los Angeles, called for the Obama administration to take steps to ensure certain unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act are avoided. If that’s not possible under the law’s existing structure, then the AFL-CIO “will demand the ACA be amended by Congress,” according to the resolution, which passed on a voice vote.

“Contrary to the law’s intent, some workers might not be able to keep their coverage and their doctors because the federal agencies’ current implementation plans will be highly disruptive to the operation of Taft-Hartley multiemployer plans, substantially changing the coverage available for millions of covered employees and their families,” the resolution stated. “The federal agencies tasked with implementing the law have unnecessarily imposed an interpretation of the Affordable Care Act which imposes additional costs and fees for which plan participants receive no benefit, unnecessarily driving coverage costs higher.”

While the majority of AFL-CIO members supported the resolution calling for the federal government to address their issues with President Obama’s signature law, some members that were present at the convention wanted to see the health care reform package completely repealed and replaced.

Moore said he wasn’t in that camp.

Although Obamacare has its problems, he maintains it is a step in the right direction and needs time to take hold.

“Any law that you pass is subject to have flaws in it,” said Moore. “You don’t address the flaws by not funding it. You come back to the following legislative session and you attempt to correct the problems.”