Alexander Calls On Administration To Rescind Rule Giving Unions Carveout from Obamacare

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Senators say they will consider options such as the Congressional Review Act to prevent the rule from taking effect
 
WASHINGTON, March 13 – Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), John Thune (R-S.D.) and 22 of their Republican colleagues today called on the Obama administration to immediately rescind its rule creating an unwarranted special carveout for some unions from Obamacare fees.
 
In a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell, the senators write: “We write to express deep disappointment that your agency has approved a final rule creating an unwarranted special carveout benefitting certain unions over other Americans.
We demand that the rule be immediately rescinded or we will consider using options such as the Congressional Review Act (“CRA”) to stop the rule from going into effect.”
 
The administration released a rule on March 5 exempting some self-insured health plans, such as those commonly run by unions, from Obamacare’s reinsurance fee in 2015 and 2016. The three-year, $25 billion reinsurance fee is meant to stabilize the individual market if too many sick customers sign up for insurance between 2014 and 2016. Prior to last week’s final rule, the fee applied equally to everyone with a private health insurance plan or a health plan administered by a private insurer. Those who did not receive a special carveout will now likely have to pay a bigger share of the fee.
 
The senators led 18 of their colleagues in sending letters on September 18 and on November 13 asking that the administration not authorize the release of any regulation that would create a special exemption from Obamacare for labor unions.
 
In today’s letter, they write:  “Those letters not only went unanswered, they were blatantly ignored. The American people deserve answers when their own government proposes to undermine their right to equal treatment under law. Carving out some unions from a multi-billion dollar reinsurance fee, the cost of which will ultimately be borne by every other American with private health insurance, is unacceptable.”
 
“Obamacare is not working. This regulation is the most recent in a long line of confusing delays, exemptions, and politically motivated crony rewards. Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with step-by-step, patient-centered reforms that drive down costs and that Americans actually want. We reiterate what we communicated to you in September: We stand willing to work with anyone who will help enact common-sense laws that could actually lower premiums and insure more people.”
 
The letter was signed by Alexander, Thune, Hatch, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), David Vitter (R-La.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
 
The full text of the letter is below:
 
March 13, 2014
 
 
Mrs. Sylvia Mathews Burwell
Director
Office of Management and Budget
301 G Street, Southwest
Washington, DC  20024
 
            RE: Final Rule No. RIN 0938-AR89
 
Dear Director Burwell:
 
We write to express deep disappointment that your agency has approved a final rule creating an unwarranted special carveout benefitting certain unions over other Americans. We demand that the rule be immediately rescinded or we will consider using options such as the Congressional Review Act (“CRA”) to stop the rule from going into effect.  The CRA is an important backstop against executive branch excess and overreach. It is regulations such as this one that demonstrate why a Republican-led Congress enacted this law in 1996.
 
On September 18 and November 13, 2013, 21 U.S. Senators wrote to ask that you not authorize the release of any regulation that would create any special exemptions from Obamacare for labor unions who are now unhappy with a law they once supported. Those letters not only went unanswered, they were blatantly ignored. The American people deserve answers when their own government proposes to undermine their right to equal treatment under law. Carving out some unions from a multi-billion dollar reinsurance fee, the cost of which will ultimately be borne by every other American with private health insurance, is unacceptable.
 
Obamacare is not working. This regulation is the most recent in a long line of confusing delays, exemptions, and politically motivated crony rewards. Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with step-by-step, patient-centered reforms that drive down costs and that Americans actually want. We reiterate what we communicated to you in September: We stand willing to work with anyone who will help enact common-sense laws that could actually lower premiums and insure more people.

Scam Phone Calls Continue; IRS Identifies Five Easy Ways To Spot Suspicious Calls

The Internal Revenue Service issued a consumer alert today providing taxpayers with additional tips to protect themselves from telephone scam artists calling and pretending to be with the IRS.   These callers may demand money or may say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They ... (click for more)

Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association Names Alex Perkerson Government Affairs Specialist

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, a trade group representing the interests of electric cooperative members across the state, announced that Alex Perkerson joins the association as government affairs specialist. In this role, Ms. Perkerson will assist with the association’s legislative and grassroots efforts. “Tennessee’s electric cooperatives work to inform ... (click for more)

16-Year-Old Shot Near Emma Wheeler Homes

A 16-year-old was shot near Emma Wheeler Homes on Sunday night. At approximately 7:40 p.m., Chattanooga Police received a call of a person shot from a local hospital. Officers spoke to the victim, a 16-year-old black male, who was transported to a local hospital in a personal vehicle. The victim’s injury is minor and non-life threatening. Investigators spoke to the victim ... (click for more)

Helen Burns Sharp Asks Recovery Of Legal Fees In Successful Black Creek TIF Lawsuit

Helen Burns Sharp, citizen activist who sued to try to stop a $9 million Black Creek Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and won, is seeking to have her legal expenses paid by the city and the developers. Ms. Sharp said in a court filing that her legal bills to attorney John Konvalinka are $74,427 thus far. Chancellor Frank Brown ruled in favor of Ms. Sharp, saying the Sunshine ... (click for more)

Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go. "Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)