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We demand that the rule be immediately rescinded or we will consider using options such as the Congressional Review Act (“CRA”) to stop the rule from going into effect.”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 Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with step-by-step, patient-centered reforms that drive down costs and that Americans actually want.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

Baker Donelson's Health Law Group Earns Multiple Top Ten Rankings

The Health Law Department at Baker Donelson has earned several honors recognizing the group as one of the leading health care practices in the United States. Baker Donelson was ranked seventh on the American Health Lawyers Association's "Top Honors 2014" list of health law firms in the United States; earned a spot in the top ten of Modern Healthcare's "Largest Healthcare Law ... (click for more)

PA Group USA Named To Accounting Today’s VAR 100 List For 2014

PA Group USA has been named by Accounting Today as one of the top 100 Value Added Resellers (VARs) of accounting and ERP software in North America. Accounting Today’s annual report acknowledges resellers of accounting and ERP software who set the standard for quality of service and ability to deliver valuable solutions, and then ranks them based on revenue. “The fact ... (click for more)

Federal Judge Stops Erlanger Foreclosure Of Hutcheson Hospital

In a ruling Friday, a Federal Court Judge in Rome agreed with Hutcheson Medical Center and Regions Bank to grant the request for an injunction, effectively stopping the foreclosure efforts of Erlanger Health System against Hutcheson. In stopping the foreclosure set for next Tuesday, the judge held that the public interest in keeping the hospital doors open was “insurmountable.”  ... (click for more)

Mediated Resolution Reached In TVA Kingston Lawsuits

A mediated global resolution has been achieved in 63 lawsuits pending in U.S. District Court involving more than 850 plaintiffs asserting claims against the Tennessee Valley Authority arising from the 2008 ash spill at Kingston Fossil Plant. The resolution, outlined in documents submitted Friday to the U.S. District Court in Knoxville, comes after nearly two years of ... (click for more)

A Tennessee Transplant's Thoughts On Age And Politics - And Response

I have read several opinions favoring the job performance of Representative Fleischmann as well the apparent disdain that they have for his challenger and his age.  I must disclose that unfortunately, I am unable to cast a vote in the 3rd District Republican primary.  I will however always be a Chattanoogan.  As a result, I feel more engaged in East Tennessee politics ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Mr. Trump, Stand Down!

I’ve never been a big fan of Donald Trump. Of his worldy possessions, I believe the only things bigger than his $4 billion bank account are his arrogance and his ego but what he did Friday was shameful. Here we have two Americans in Africa on a mercy mission who have been stricken with the ebola virus and as emergency efforts are in progress to bring them home, Trump -- in his usual ... (click for more)