WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama signaled to House Democratic leaders Wednesday that they'll have to drop their opposition to taxing high-end health insurance plans to pay for health coverage for millions of uninsured Americans.
In a meeting at the White House, Obama expressed his preference for the insurance tax contained in the Senate's health overhaul bill, but largely opposed by House Democrats and organized labor, Democratic aides said.
The difference in how the bills are paid for is emerging as among the toughest disputes.
The House wants to increase income taxes on individuals making more than $500,000 and couples over $1 million, which would raise $460 billion over 10 years to pay for the bill. The Senate wants to tax insurance companies on plans valued at over $8,500 for individuals and $23,000 for couples, raising $150 billion. Most analysts say the insurance tax would be passed on to consumers, and organized labor is strongly opposed, as are House Democrats, some of whom contend that the tax would violate Obama's campaign pledge not to tax the middle class.
"We did in our house bill something that protects middle class Americans from having to pay more for health insurance," Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., a member of the House leadership, said Wednesday. "So far we want to stay to that principle."
House members "have been very clear on that issue and working with the president to stick to what he said when he was campaigning for president, we're trying to make sure this does not affect middle class Americans," Becerra said.
When middle and working class Americans and union members with employer-provided health care plans pay more money for crappier health care, you'll know who to blame.
When employers reduce coverage and increase co-pays and other premiums on employer-provided health care plans, you'll know who to blame.
When people with employer-provided health care have a 40% excise tax passed onto their plans, you'll know who to blame.
It's President Change We Can Believe In.
And it's all to keep from raising taxes on people making over $500,000 a year.
Instead he wants to raise taxes on working and middle class Americans with employer-provided health care plans.
The Corporate President.