By Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa
Published in the Detroit News, April 5, 2017
Congress’ recent effort to revamp the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went down in flames last month, and rightfully so. The bill went in the wrong direction when it came to making affordable quality healthcare available to consumers who need it.
But that doesn’t mean reform isn’t necessary. There are plenty of improvements that should be made to the ACA. And none of them are more important than putting a permanent end to the so-called “Cadillac Tax” that punishes many Teamsters and other union workers for having health insurance that is — get this — too good!
As it stands, workers lucky enough to have high-quality health care plans could be hit with a 40 percent excise tax beginning in 2020, increasing the costs they pay out of pocket. At a time when lawmakers should be looking for ways to strengthen the middle class here in Michigan and across the nation, they are promoting policies that hit workers in the wallet instead.
Congress should be fighting for ways to improve the livelihoods of working Americans instead of promoting policies that will ultimately take money from their hard-earned paychecks and reduce, and make more costly, the health care benefits they receive. Instead, lawmakers have decided to penalize these constituents, even though many let elected officials know in recent weeks they were looking for improved health care coverage, not more expensive insurance.
It is unconscionable that hard-working Americans will continue to have this draconian penalty assessed on benefits they’ve fought hard to receive, while many employers scale back their health care offerings and raise the cost to their workers without consequence. Where is the fairness in such a policy?
Lawmakers have and will continue to debate what the future of health care looks like in this country. There are many legitimate policy considerations that need to be weighed. But when there are aspects of the system that are working, why mess with them?
The availability of high-quality health care has been a top selling point for those who belong to unions. It is a benefit these workers have bargained for, and oftentimes they have sacrificed higher pay for these excellent insurance benefits. What business is it of Congress that these employees have prioritized their health care in such a way? And why would the elected representatives of the people seek to tear down such efforts by slapping such high fees on these working Americans? Instead, legislators should turn their policy ire, and attention, towards corporations who are failing in their responsibilities to offer decent health benefits to their workers and their families.
At a time when there are so many other problems with the nation’s health care system, it is absolutely ludicrous that those on Capitol Hill are wasting their time attacking people who have good benefits that can keep their families healthy. In short, workers with great health care plans are not the cause of the nation’s health insurance crisis!