Reps. Kelly and Courtney Lead Bipartisan Re-Introduction of Bill to Protect Workers’ Health Benefits

Jan 24, 2019 Issues: Health Care

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Joe Courtney (D-CT) introduced legislation today (H.R. 748) to repeal a 40% excise tax on certain employer-sponsored health insurance plans known as the “Cadillac Tax.” They were joined today by a bipartisan coalition including Rep. Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ-01), and Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04).

The “Cadillac Tax” would impact employers and families whose health insurance plans cost more than $11,100 for an individual, and $29,750 for family coverage. In the 115th Congress, more than 300 Members of Congress from both parties cosponsored legislation to repeal this harmful 40% tax. Although the tax was originally a provision in the Affordable Care Act, implementation has been delayed numerous times by bipartisan coalitions in Congress, most recently to 2022.

“By taxing the benefits that employers generously offer their employees to help keep them healthy and financially secure, the Cadillac Tax needlessly cuts into ever-tightening family budgets while making health care less accessible,” said Congressman Kelly. “As we know it, the employer-sponsored health care system is stable, efficient, and effective in covering more than half of all Americans. Employers are on the cutting edge of innovation, leveraging new technologies and systems to reduce health care costs and produce better outcomes. The Cadillac Tax threatens this time-tested system as it would lead many employers to forgo investments in the health care solutions of tomorrow.  Now is the time to fully and permanently repeal the Cadillac Tax.”

“The American people have made it clear that they want Congress to address the rising cost of health care,” said Congressman Courtney. “Out of pocket costs are unaffordable for growing numbers of families, even those who have insurance. If the 40% excise tax goes into effect, we know this affordability crisis will dramatically worsen. Actuarial experts have repeatedly warned that this tax will disproportionately and unfairly impact older workers, women, and working families in expensive geographic areas. My legislation to repeal the 40% tax has wide and unified support from a range of stakeholders, patient groups, employers, and labor organizations. It’s my belief that the legislation will receive the same broad support in this Congress, and that we will scrap the Cadillac Tax once and for all.”

“The Cadillac Tax hits working families due to factors beyond their control such as age, geography, or job occupation,” said Congresswoman DelBene. “Simply put, it’s an unfair tax against families who get their health insurance through their employers. Repealing the Cadillac Tax in bipartisan fashion would be a win for families in my district that depend on high quality, affordable health coverage.”

“I am a staunch opponent of unnecessary taxes and a staunch supporter of employer-sponsored health insurance coverage,” Congresswoman Stefanik said. “My constituents in the North Country already pay far too much for their health insurance – the looming Cadillac Tax forces them to pay even more out of pocket costs. Repealing the Cadillac Tax is one commonsense fix to the Affordable Care Act, and I’m proud to join my colleagues in ending it once and for all in a bipartisan fashion. There is absolutely no plausible reason this oppressive tax was ever a part of the law in the first place.”

“In New Jersey, working families, women and older workers could see a huge increase in health care costs if we don’t act to repeal the Cadillac Tax,” said Congressman Donald Norcross, a former IBEW and SJ AFL-CIO leader who spent years negotiating workers’ benefit packages. “Congress has been continually delaying this policy instead of enacting an outright repeal, which means workers and negotiators are unable to properly plan or bargain during three-to-five year wage and benefit negotiations. That’s just not right, and it leaves workers with reduced healthcare benefits. The American people have been rightfully demanding lower healthcare costs and we must answer that call.”

The legislation has gained support from a host of organizations, including the American Benefits Council and AFL-CIO:

“Employers provide health coverage to more than180 million Americans. We applaud the strong bipartisan support to repeal the Cadillac tax and commend Congressman Joe Courtney for sounding the alarm – even before the tax was enacted – about the burden it will place on working families and employers. The tax hits plans that are not ’overly generous’ but, rather, are expensive for reasons beyond the control of employers and families who need coverage to protect themselves from financial ruin.  We proudly stand with Congressman Courtney who has worked tirelessly to protect employer-provided health coverage by advocating repeal of the Cadillac tax,” said James A. Klein, President of American Benefits Council.    

“Working families have waited too long for repeal of the 40% health benefits tax," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. "It's a shame that health care remains out of reach for millions across the country because they can’t afford to see their doctor. It’s time to end this tax that drives up deductibles and copays that empty workers’ wallets.”