I have often opined that any legislation or court decision that takes a hundred pages or more to outline a law means that the rule it tries to explain is too complicated. That complexity leads to self contradiction, unequal treatment, and unintended consequences. The Affodable Care Act is no exception, and I said this very thing when it became law. And for the record, it was well over 100 pages in length.
Obama Care has been unpopular since it passed. Increasing scrutiny in recent months and the Obama administration’s decision to postpone implementation of the employer mandate have only served to further undermine the law. Now one of the Democrats biggest allies and supporters of “universal health care”, the labor unions, is extremely unhappy because the law is hammering them.
A recent article by Forbes columnist Avik Roy tells the story. In short, the act effectively removes labor unions as a third party administrator on health care benefits for their members. As a result, one of the last reasons to belong to a labor union is being eliminated by a law that the unions strongly supported and were eager to see passed. Membership is suffering as a result.
One of the primary benefits of joining a labor union has always been pooling resources to pay for health benefits through the health a welfare funds. The approach allowed for cheaper rates for the large group and meant members could avoid having to negotiate their own rates. The new law eliminates that option in large part though, as the unions are not offered the same subsidies individuals and some businesses get to purchase insurance. Issues may also exist with participation in government exchanges. This means its cheaper for rank and file members to go it alone on health insurance.
In another odd twist, the law has cut workers hours and greatly reduced the 40 work week. As businesses shed full time employees to avoid having to buy insurance for employees, workers are increasingly being moved to part time to avoid the mandate of providing health insurance or being laid off all together.
As is correctly stated in the article, labor unions fought universal health care for years because it would take a powerful reason for membership away. With participation in unions already shrinking and efforts at forced unionization failing in many respects, the organized labor can ill afford to lose another reason for its existence. The death of both the 40 hour work week, regardless of the wage scale, and affordable health care will further disenchant rank and file union members. With no real reason to retain membership, they will give up their union card for the sake of an honest wage and affordable health insurance.
And in that end result, Obama may have unwittingly put one of the final nails in the metaphorical coffin of perhaps the biggest ally of his Democrat party. And to add injury to insult, it was predictable and conservatives warned of the result before the law passed.