Teachers Union Gets A Pass On ObamaCare Rule
By: Chalres Hurt and Yoav Gonen
October 8, 2010--New York Post
The United Federation of Teachers -- one of President Obama's key political backers -- is the biggest beneficiary of a White House sweetheart deal that will exempt certain outfits from complying with new health-care rules, officials revealed yesterday.
The quietly approved federal waivers for 30 companies, health insurers, unions and other groups across the country means the UFT doesn't have to gradually phase out caps on annual health coverage like everyone else.
The UFT was concerned that could have been a major financial hit on the union.
The one-year waiver, approved last month by the Department of Health and Human Services, covers all 351,000 members of the UFT's welfare fund, which provides health care and other benefits.
The UFT has the largest pool of affected employees of the 30 organizations that received waivers. The second largest was CIGNA with 265,000 members.
Critics have questioned the need for the exemptions, who got them, and why.
"Big labor spent millions of dollars pushing ObamaCare, which they made sure was stuffed full of union giveaways," said Patrick Semmens, spokesman for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which represents businesses.
"So the fact that the largest waiver now belongs to New York teachers union bosses might be funny if the rest of America wasn't stuck complying with the bill's onerous mandates."
While serving as president of the UFT and its parent group, the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten and her members endorsed Obama in 2008.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed questions about whether the waivers were approved as payback for past support.
"I think that would be a charge that would be hard even for most to make," Gibbs said. He also insisted that the exemptions -- which also went to companies such as McDonald's, Aetna, BCS Insurance Group, Denny's and Jack in The Box -- didn't signal a flaw in ObamaCare regulations.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said the waiver was simply a measure to buy the union time to see how its health-care costs would be affected this year.