WASHINGTON The White House says low-income workers on union health plans aren't eligible for the same federal subsidies available to those who buy insurance in the new state health care marketplaces.
The decision is a disappointment for labor unions. It comes shortly after top union officials met for more than an hour today with President Barack Obama, to press their case that subsidies could be extended to the union-sponsored plans.
For months, labor leaders have complained that without the subsidies, the Affordable Care Act would drive up the cost of some union plans. They said that would cause employers to drop coverage, and would jeopardize health coverage for millions of union members.
The White House is citing a Treasury Department letter saying there's no legal way for union members in multi-employer group health plans to receive subsidies.
In a statement, the White House says it will work with unions and encourage them to offer their multi-employer plans "through the marketplace, on an equal footing," and create "new, high-quality affordable options for all Americans."
But the unions would have to turn their private plans into public, competitive plans open to all workers, not just union members.