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Goodies For Labor Hidden in New Health Care Bill

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Despite representing only about 7.6 percent of private sector
employees, unions are poised to gain significant privileges, authority
and financial windfalls from health care reform. Coming at the expense
of tax-paying patients and businesses, these specific benefits would do
little or nothing to improve our health care system, says Kevin
Troutman, chairman of the Healthcare Practice Group of Fisher &
Phillips LLP.

For example:

-- According to research firms, unions are woefully short of funds to pay their retirees' anticipated insurance claims.
-- Thus,
under the House resolution, union leaders who have mismanaged these
plans for their members could receive up to $10 billion in
taxpayer-funded bailoutmoney, innocuously referred to as a
"reinsurance program."

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, say Troutman:

-- Under
the proposed public option, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Kathleen Sebelius would wield tremendous discretionary authority to
regulate participating health care workers.
-- She and various
federal panels, where the unions would have guaranteed seats, would
take the lead in recommending health care policy.
-- Thus, labor would have considerable influence over decisions affecting most doctors, nurses and patients.

Other provisions:

-- The
House resolution establishes a scenario that would effectively exclude
non-union employers from eligibility to work on program-funded
-- It also requires participating health care
providers to pay wages and benefits that have been collectively
bargained or that union-friendly appointees determine are competitive;
this is plainly a move toward coerced unionization.
-- With
guaranteed seats at the table, unions are poised to control many newly
formed oversight posts and/or committees, formed in connection with new
employer mandates and cooperative health care associations.

features all encourage more unionization, explains Troutman. The
unions know that under Canada's nationalized system, union membership
among all health care workers is 61 percent, compared to just 11
percent in the United States. Increasing membership similarly in this
country would swell labor's coffers with as much as another $2 billion
in dues.

If our elected representatives are serious about health
care reform, they should address the pertinent issues, without slipping
in hidden favors for their political supporters, says Troutman.

Source: Kevin Troutman, "Goodies for labor tucked away in health bill," Houston Chronicle, November 13, 2009. For text:

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