Pelosi, Labor Leaders Reportedly Reach Deal Over Excise Tax Plan
On Tuesday, union leaders said that they have reached a tentative agreement to exempt collectively bargained health care plans from an excise tax on high-cost, employer-provided insurance plans that is included in the Senate's health care bill (HR 3590), CongressDaily reports.
The deal was struck between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern and United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger.
According to CongressDaily, exemptions for collectively bargained plans would "appease unions" -- which often bargain for generous health plans instead of higher wages -- and would allow President Obama to keep his pledge not to impose taxes on people whose annual incomes are less than $200,000.
The excise tax was included in the legislation in part to finance Democrats' health care overhaul (Edney, CongressDaily, 1/13).
Obama has expressed a preference for the excise tax over an alternative revenue-raising proposal in the House bill (HR 3962) to levy a surtax on individuals with annual incomes greater than $500,000 and couples with annual income exceeding $1 million (California Healthline, 1/12).
On Monday, labor leaders expressed their opposition to the excise tax during a meeting with Obama.
House and Senate leaders are scheduled to meet with Obama today to discuss progress on merging Congress' two health bills.
House Ways and Means Committee Chair Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said he hopes an agreement can be reached on the excise tax during the meeting but added, "That's stretching the word 'hope.'"
Woolsey Says Unions Not Only Ones Upset With Excise Tax
On Tuesday, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) said she would hold a briefing today to remind negotiators that leaders from non-union companies also oppose the excise tax, CongressDaily reports.
Woolsey also indicated that one proposed change to the tax would ensure that Obama's promise not to raise taxes for workers whose annual incomes are less than $200,000 is kept for non-union members, as well (CongressDaily, 1/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.