Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Obama Wants Tax On Union Health Care Plans Over Millionaire Tax

The Senate's health care proposal that levies a 40% excise tax on so-called "Cadillac" employer-provided health care plans that exceed $8,000 a year in cost is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to hit 58 million people by 2019.

The House version of the bill levies a "millionaire's surplus tax" on people making over a million dollars.

Firedoglake reports that the Obama administration wants the excise tax on employer-provided health care plans rather than the surplus tax on millionaires:

• Excise tax: unions and progressive leaders are pushing strongly for the House’s version of financing, dropping the excise tax on high-end insurance plans that financed part of it and substituting it with a surtax on millionaires. Sen. Debbie Stabenow also noted today that the excise tax should be relaxed or eliminated. The White House has said that the excise tax is a major cost control component of reform, so they’ve staked some of the bill on it. In addition, Ben Nelson has objected to the House surtax on millionaires, saying “that would break” his promise to vote for the bill.

Slate says pretty much all employer-provided health care plans could qualify for the excise tax:

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.

Those above figures are from the Joint Committee on Taxation; as noted earlier, the CBO estimates the excise tax will hit a much larger number of people by 2019 - 58 million.

So there you have it - Obama, the man who was elected with the help of union members and pledged to deliver change we could all believe in from the previous eight years of "Screw the Middle and Working Classes - Pay Off The Wealthy" has decided to tax middle and working class Americans rather than millionaires because he wants to say this health care "reform" plan that essentially forces 33 million people to buy private insurance and provide insurance companies with billions of extra revenue dollars is "revenue neutral."

I can't wait to deliver a message to this corporate shill in 2010 and 2012. Judging by how Dems and liberals are responding to polls these days about the president and the Democratic Party, I know I'm not the only one.

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