After fighting for passage of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) unions in Ohio received a waiver from one of ACA’s key regulations. Consistent with the union-heavy national waiver trend reported by The Weekly Standard and The Daily Caller, the Ohio AFSCME Care Plan waiver on annual coverage limits is one of the largest ACA waivers granted in the state.
The Ohio AFSCME Care Plan applied for an ACA waiver on January 28, 2011 — after AFSCME Council 8, the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE / AFSCME Local 4), and the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA / AFSCME Local 11) spent years pushing for increased federal control of the health insurance market.
On this and other policy matters, AFSCME affiliates in Ohio take marching orders from AFSCME headquarters in Washington, D.C. “In July 2008, AFSCME launched a nationwide campaign for quality, affordable health care for all,” reports a story on the national AFSCME website. “To ensure the broadest support for President Obama’s health care reform, AFSCME led the formation of Health Care for America Now! (HCAN), the nation’s leading grassroots health care advocacy organization.”
AFSCME Council 8, OAPSE, and OCSEA are all listed as Ohio partners of HCAN. AFSCME Council 8 is also an endorser of “Ohio Campaign for Better Care” and “Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage,” both campaigns of the union-backed Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio.
In a story titled “OAPSE Rallies for Health Care Reform,” the Fall 2009 OAPSE newsletter asserted, “AFSCME is among the unions working hard on the president’s health care initiative, which would guarantee health coverage for every American.” Adjacent to the news item was a list of talking points from HCAN.
A July 2, 2009 news item on the OCSEA website announced, “To ramp up local efforts in support of health care for all Americans and eduaction regarding Health Care for America Now’s Comprehensive Health Care Plan, OCSEA — in cooperation with the other Ohio AFSCME affiliates — has planned several important events around the state.”
Waivers granted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are organized by plan type, in lists last updated January 6, 2012. The “Employer Plans” list contains waivers for 22 businesses, with a total 20,457 plan enrollees affected. The waiver for Ohio AFSCME Care Plan covers 26,500 people, dwarfing each of the employer plans and overshadowing all employer waivers combined.