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We demand that the rule be immediately rescinded or we will consider using options such as the Congressional Review Act (“CRA”) to stop the rule from going into effect.”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 Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with step-by-step, patient-centered reforms that drive down costs and that Americans actually want.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.


Chattanooga Chamber Calendar Of Events For Oct. 23-27

TUES/24 East Brainerd Council Meeting 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. Car Barn:  6721 Heritage Business Court Speaker: Steven Wagner, Erlanger Children's Hospital $12.   TUES/24 Grand Re-Opening of Food City 5 - 5:30 p.m. Food City:  7804 E. Brainerd Rd .   THUR/26 Reality Check - East Ridge High School ... (click for more)

Catherine Heigel Named Chief Operating Officer For Elliott Davis

Catherine Heigel, the former director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, has returned to Elliott Davis, LLC as its chief operating officer.  In this role, Ms. Heigel manages the firm’s operational support functions, including legal, information technology, human resource, marketing and communications, and firm administration. In addition, ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain To Hold Public Meetings On Idea Of Setting Up Own School System

Discussion about follow-up public meetings regarding the Signal Mountain School System Viability Committee (SMSSVC) report dominated the council’s work session on Friday afternoon. Council member Dan Landrum’s opinion about how to proceed differed from the other four council members. Mr. Landrum argued to end the study and to hold no public meetings. His reason was that of the 738 ... (click for more)

Man Shot Multiple Times In Cleveland; Jesus Teague, 14, Is Arrested

On Saturday, at 6:12 a.m., Cleveland Police Department responded to 1210 Elrod Place SE in reference to a domestic disturbance.   A man sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was transported to Erlanger by Life Force. His condition is stable, at this time.   The suspect, Jesus Tyler Teague, 14, was located and was in custody as of 3:25 p.m. ... (click for more)

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Myth And Fact Check

My husband and I recently had the privilege of participating in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Chattanooga. I listened as my husband told the audience about how his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when he was nine and how she died from the disease when he was fourteen. As a child, my husband didn’t understand what breast cancer ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It’s All About People

The leaders of Hamilton County’s Mental Health Court held a heart-warming open house Friday afternoon and it was announced that just since February, the creation has saved the county over $3 million in incarceration costs. But to hear County Mayor Jim Coppinger or Judge Don Poole tell it, that’s not what is important. “Soon after the court started, a kind, quiet man I’ll ... (click for more)