Joint Letter Delivered to Senate Majority Leader Reid
NALC President Fred Rolando, in a joint letter with leaders of four other major labor unions, urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) December 1 to seek an alternative in pending health care legislation to a proposed excise tax on health insurance plans that would unjustly penalize millions of middle-income workers.
Speaking for about 5 million members, the five labor leaders applauded Reid’s dedication and sustained hard work in moving the health care reform agenda forward. But they said they were “deeply troubled” by the excise tax proposal affecting health care plans whose costs exceed certain benchmarks.
“While we appreciate the significant challenges inherent in paying for quality health insurance reform we need and support, we continue to believe that an excise tax on [so-called ‘Cadillac’] health care plans is both bad politics and bad policy,” the five said. “In fact, the tax would have a devastating impact on exactly the type of good, comprehensive health care plans reform should be promoting.”
Joining in the letter along with Rolando were Communications Workers President Larry Cohen, Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, United Food and Commercial Workers President Joseph T. Hansen, and National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel.
Instead of curbing excessive benefits for executives, they said the tax would adversely impact millions of workers under collectively bargained health plans. While the tax technically is on insurance companies that offer plans above a certain threshold, this additional cost would simply be passed along to workers, the union leaders said.
“Both employees in the private and public sectors could possibly have their benefits reduced or premiums raised,” they warned.
They pointed out that the excise tax would have a discriminatory impact on plans that cover older workers and retirees, or workers in high cost regions or high risk occupations, or plans primarily serving women. Moreover, the net result of the 40 percent excise tax would be to force many plans to cut back important benefits and encourage employers to cut back on family coverage.
“We know that health insurance reform can be paid for through cost savings both inside and outside of the health care system without a new excise tax on insurance plans,” the five said. “As the debate moves forward, we urge you to continue to look for ways to eliminate the excise tax and develop a program that does not penalize our members.”
NALC news Bulletin: http://nalc.org/news/bulletin/PDF2009/Bull09-21.pdf