November 20, 2009
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has worked to create a good bill in combining the two health care and health insurance reform bills passed out of Senate committees earlier this year.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would cover 94% of Americans while reducing the deficit by $130 billion over ten years, according to analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The bill also includes a public-run insurance option to compete with private insurers in offering coverage to the uninsured. (Click to read the bill in PDF).
But this is not a perfect bill. It includes an excise tax on employer-provided health care benefits. Taxing middle class families on the health care benefits they get at work is bad policy and bad politics. When it comes to financing reform, it’s the House Bill (HR 3962) – not the Senate – that gets it right.
“We will work hard to eliminate this provision,” said AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka, of the excise tax in his statement on the announcement of the Senate’s bill:
“We commend Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for bringing forward a health care bill that moves us closer to the historic goal of health care for America – high quality, affordable health care for all in our rich nation. The Senate leadership bill takes the strongest steps yet to bring down costs. But the bill is not perfect. It retains a version of the excise tax from the Senate Finance Committee bill. We continue to believe that a tax on working families’ benefits is the wrong way to finance health care and we will work hard to eliminate this provision as the bill heads to the floor.
“The bill’s inclusion of a public insurance plan option to hold private insurance companies accountable is a tremendous step. And the legislation should be praised for its other fair financing plans, including an increase in the Medicare tax on the wealthiest and an employer responsibility requirement, which we believe should be expanded to include more employers. The bill would expand access by covering 94 percent of Americans and reduce the deficit by $130 billion over 10 years. Today another hurdle is cleared and we are optimistic that good, affordable care for working families will soon be law.”
We are optimistic that we are closer than ever to achieving the goal of real health care reform for all working families. The next step is for the Senate to get 60 votes. We will continue to call and write Senators in support of health care reform.
Call the U.S. Senate at 1-877-3AFLCIO
Now that the House has passed its reform bill and legislation has been unveiled in the Senate, health care and health insurance reform has made it further than any previous efforts. We need to make sure our Senators don’t drop the ball.
To help you make the call to Sen. Hagan and Sen. Burr, you can use this simple script:
My name is ______________ and I live in (City). I am calling today to urge you to support real health care reform containing a strong public option, a mandate that employers pay their fair share and reform that does not tax our health care benefits.
I hope we can count on Senator ___________ to support real health care reform. Thank you.