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Unions Find Potentially Costly Flaw In Affordable Care Act

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President Obama signs into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (Credit: Win McNamee/ Getty Images)

President Obama signs into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (Credit: Win McNamee/ Getty Images)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With just months to go before the Affordable Care Act takes effect, unions that provide health care for members are facing a potentially damaging problem. Their health plans aren’t eligible for all the law’s benefits.

The Act requires employers to provide insurance for full-time workers, or pay a penalty. Workers whose employers choose to pay the fine and part-time workers will be able to get insurance through exchanges and low-wage workers will be eligible for subsidies. But union plans, which cover many low-wage and part-time workers, aren’t eligible for the subsidies. Union officials such as Wendell Young of the U-F-C-W say that’s not fair.

“It’s excluding members like our (members) from qualifying for subsidies that they would otherwise be qualified for,” Young says.

Young is among those pressing for rule changes. He says the law was intended to level the playing field for employers who offer health coverage, including those who contribute to union plans — but that will only be possible if the plans get all the benefits of the law.

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