News Releases

Friday, March 14, 2014

Isakson, Chambliss, 23 GOP Colleagues Call on Administration to Immediately Rescind Rule Giving Unions a Carve-out from Obamacare

Senators warn they will consider options such as the Congressional Review Act to prevent the rule from taking effect

WASHINGTON – U.S. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., joined 23 of their Republican colleagues Thursday in calling on the Obama administration to immediately rescind its rule creating an unwarranted special carve-out for some unions from Obamacare fees.

In a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell, the senators wrote: “We write to express deep disappointment that your agency has approved a final rule creating an unwarranted special carve-out 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 We demand that the rule be immediately rescinded or we will consider using options such as the Congressional Review Act to stop the rule from going into effect.”

The administration released a rule on March 5, 2014, 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 this announcement, 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 carve-out will now likely have to pay a bigger share of the fee.

Isakson and Chambliss also joined with many Republican senators in September 2013 and November 2013 in sending letters asking that the administration not authorize the release of any regulation that would create a special exemption from Obamacare for labor unions.

In addition to Isakson and Chambliss, the letter was signed by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), 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), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), 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.), John Thune (R-Utah), David Vitter (R-La.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

The full text of the letter is as follows:

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 carve-out 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.

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