Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, December 21, 2009

Senate Health Care Bill Will Tax Union Health Care Plans

The Senate bill passed last night will raise taxes on union members with health care benefits. This includes UFT members.

Here's how SEIU describes what is in the Senate bill:

The tax would be paid beginning in 2013 on 40% of the amount by which a health plan's premiums exceeded a dollar cost. Currently, the Senate bill would begin taxing your health care benefits if they cost more than $8,500 for individual or $23,000 for family coverage in that year.



* Some for age and occupation:
For early retirees and certain "high-risk" occupations such as firefighters and law enforcement--the amounts are higher--$9,850 for individual and $26,000 for family coverage.

* Some for high-cost states:
For workers in the 17 highest cost states, there will be higher limits for the first 3 years. If you live in a high cost state, the amount in 2013 would be $10,200 for individual and $31,200 for family coverage.

has some good coverage on the excise tax on "cadillac health care plans." Jane Hamsher, quoting the CBO, says that by 2016 the excise tax will affect 19% of the people with employer-provided health care plans - that is roughly 30 million people. By 2019, the excise tax will affect 58 million American. You can be sure that will be every union member in America.

Now let me be very clear that what the Senate did last night was done with the approval of the president. The Obama administration supports this excise tax on union health care benefits. The administration does NOT want to raise income taxes on the wealthiest 1% in the nation to pay for the health care giveaway to the insurance companies, instead it wants to fund the giveaway on the backs of middle and working class Americans with union health care benefit plans.

We should be outraged by this betrayal from President Obama - this is the kind of attack we should expect from Republicans, not self-proclaimed "progressive Democrats."

The House bill does not have the excise tax proposal in it. The House and Senate bills still have to be worked in committee before the final bill is written. There is still time to kill this proposal.

Call your senator, call your congressman, call President Obama in the White House and explain to them that if they raise taxes on union members with health care plans, you will NOT vote for them for re-election and will work to make sure that many other working and middle class Americans do NOT vote for them as well.

Obama is a sell-out and shill for corporate America. He has bailed out Wall Street for the past year with trillions of tax dollars, the Senate, with his approval, has given the health insurance companies their bailout this week with this horrible health care proposal, and next year, the education privatization companies will get theirs when NCLB re-authorization gets done.

And it is middle and working class Americans who are bearing the brunt of this president's bailout policies.

Teachers especially are under assault from this president. Not only does he not think you are deserving of respect or deserving of tenure, he thinks you do not deserve your health care benefits either, not without paying a tax on them to fund his health insurance company bailout plan.

So call your senators, call your congressman, call the White House and let them know you're staying home in 2010 and 2012 if this thing passes with the excise tax on union health care plans in it.

Stop the sell-out.


  1. The question for city employees, then, is whether their plans qualify as so-called "Cadillac" plans. I can't actually find how much our plans cost doing a Google search.

    Thank goodness they're not taxing the rich. Perish forbid.

  2. This info from Slate about the original Finance Committee proposal might help. My sense is that if SEIU is concerned its members are going to get screwed by this proposal, then you can be pretty certain UFT members should be concerned as well:

    How do I know if my insurance plan is a "Cadillac plan"? Look at the cost. The finance committee defines high-cost or "Cadillac" as any plan with premiums higher than $8,000 for individuals or $21,000 for families. Keep in mind that these figures include everything you and your employer spend on health care except for the deductible: premiums for medical (the portions paid by you and by your employer), dental, and vision coverage, as well as any money you put into a flexible spending account, which allows you to set aside pretax money to cover medical costs. Since your pay stub may show only your personal contribution—not that of your employer—the best way to find out the total cost of your plan is to ask your human resources liaison. Many companies already list their employees' total premiums on their W-2 tax forms. The bill passed by the finance committee would make that mandatory.

    What does a "Cadillac plan" offer? The top-of-the-line plans—say, the $40,000-a-year plan offered to Goldman Sachs CEOs—likely have no copayments, no deductibles, few limits on how much you can spend, and no need for prior authorization, i.e., to get special permission before you get treated.

    But many not-so-fancy plans also qualify as "Cadillacs" under the finance committee's definition. That's because the term refers to total cost—not a particular set of benefits—and many factors—like the state you live in, the size of your company, and the makeup of that company's work force—can affect costs. Premiums tend to be significantly higher in Massachusetts than in Idaho, for example. (The employer/employee contribution also varies by state.) The smaller the business, the fewer employees who go into the pool, the less leverage the organization has to negotiate lower premiums. And if the workers have an average age of, say, 54, their premiums are going to be a lot higher than if the average is 25.

    A lot of basic benefits packages, then, can still qualify as "Cadillacs." (The Senate finance committee has made exceptions for workers with high-risk jobs like firefighters, whose premiums tend to be high.) The Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated that the tax would hit 14 percent of family health policies and 19 percent of individual policies in 2013, when the legislation would take effect. Those numbers would rise to 37 percent and 41 percent, respectively, by 2019, since premiums are expected to rise faster than inflation.