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Obamacare Causes Problems for United Farm Workers


Obamacare has now managed to cause angst with an insurance plan created by the efforts of farm labor activist Cesar Chavez and named for Robert F. Kennedy. Roughly 10,700 farm workers could be left uninsured or require California taxpayers to pay a subsidy.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 17: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks about Obamacare and the ongoing tensions in Ukraine in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House April 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The United Farm Workers (UFW) insurance plan – the Robert F. Kennedy Medical Plan – limits annual benefits to $70,000, in violation of the Affordable Care Act, which bars caps on benefits, the Los Angeles Times reports. The union was already given a waiver, but that expires in September.

The UFW plan is funded by employers and the farm workers. Purchasing replacement insurance could increase the cost by 35 percent to 80 percent, the Times reported.

Some Democratic legislators are backing a bill to provide a $3.2 million subsidy for the union.

State Sen. Ellen Corbett, a Democrat, said the subsidy would be financed from cigarette taxes and would "support some of our hardest workers, who bring our food to the table.”

Senate Majority Leader Darrell Steinberg's spokesman Mark Hedlund said taxpayers will be on the hook for a larger even larger costs if the farmworkers wind up on Medi-Cal, Califonira's Medicaid program.

Republican state Sen. Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) said, “It seems like we are picking winners and losers," Morrell said. "I don't know why this particular group [would be] sent $3 million."

Even the UFW question the subsidy.

"Creating a special set of rules for one plan, I don't know if that's appropriate," she said. "Our plan absorbed the cost,” said Clare Einsmann, the trust's executive vice president.

In 2010, the UFW's PAC gave more than $10,000 to Gov. Jerry Brown's campaign and thousands more to legislative candidates, the Times says. Dolores Huerta, who helped create the union with Chavez, has helped promote Obamacare coverage to Latinos in California.

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