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IRS workers want an exemption from ObamaCare

By Paul Kersey | Liberty News

Another union has lost its enthusiasm for ObamaCare – or at least for one major feature of the federalized health insurance scheme.

The National Treasury Employees Union, or NTEU, is encouraging its members to write their congressmen in opposition to HR 1780, a bill that would have federal government workers use health insurance exchanges to buy health insurance. (Their sample letter is below.) The exchanges would take the place of the Federal Employee Health Benefits program that currently provides insurance to Treasury Department employees.

The creation of health insurance exchanges was one of the key features of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. The exchanges were supposed to provide a means for workers who did not have employer-provided insurance to purchase affordable insurance on their own. Under ObamaCare, members of Congress and their staffs are required to buy health insurance through the exchanges. HR 1780 would extend this to all federal government workers. 

The exchanges, which were originally to be managed by state governments, have proved difficult to set up. Twenty-seven states have passed on creating their own exchanges, and another seven states (Illinois included) have opted for a partnership arrangement where the federal government will still take the lead in setting up an exchange – rather than take on the task on themselves. The creation of the exchanges is behind schedule, and many health care providers doubt that they will be functional in timeto prevent disruptions in health care.

Many unions have lost their enthusiasm for ObamaCare and even called for the law to be amended, mainly in order to protect private plans that unions themselves have bargained for. But the NTEU’s action is especially telling because the NTEU represents Internal Revenue Service employees who have the responsibility to enforce much of the health care law, especially in terms of collecting the taxes and distributing subsidies that finance the whole system. IRS agents will also collect data and apply penalties for those who fail to comply with many of ObamaCare’s requirements. NTEU’s own experts seem to realize now that ObamaCare is a bad idea.

Treasury employees, and the union that represents them, are in a unique position to know how the new health insurance law will work, or if it will work at all. It seems the NTEU has little confidence in the exchange system. But rather than perform a public service by calling for the whole thing to be put on hold, the NTEU is looking to make sure its own people keep their exemption. 

At the end of the day, the people who will enforce much of ObamaCare don’t want to be subject to the exchanges the law creates – which is not a good sign for those who are stuck in the system.

NTEU sample letter:

I am a federal employee and one of your constituents. I am very concerned about legislation that has been introduced by Congressman Dave Camp to push federal employees out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and into the insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

H.R. 1780 would put federal employees in a special class where they would be prohibited from receiving health insurance through their employer. It would treat federal employees differently from state and local government employees and most employees of large private sector companies who receive health insurance benefits through their employer. The primary purpose of the Affordable Care Act was to provide a marketplace for the sale and purchase of health insurance for those who do not have such coverage – not to take coverage away from employees who already receive it through their employers.

I work hard and am proud of the services that I provide to your constituents every day. One of the main benefits I receive as a federal employee is the ability to purchase health insurance coverage through the FEHBP with an employer contribution towards those benefits. Please let me know your views on this legislation. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Paul Kersey is Director of Labor Policy at the Illinois Policy Institute

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