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Thousands of CEA Members Sign Petitions Opposing Health Care Excise Tax

These petitions are among the hundreds delivered to members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation – signed by more than 10,000 teachers – on December 22 that urge lawmakers to oppose a proposed excise tax on health care benefits.

CEA delivered hundreds of petitions signed by more than 10,000 teachers to members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation today.  The petitions urge lawmakers to oppose a proposed excise tax on health care benefits.

The U.S. Senate’s version of proposed health care reform legislation includes an excise tax on so-called “Cadillac” health care plans, such as the plans that cover  teachers and their family members.

The petition drive involved local Association presidents, building representatives, local political coordinators, and CEA UniServ staff throughout the state. The drive — which collected the signatures in just three days — was organized to inform Connecticut’s representatives in Washington that while CEA and its members strongly support health care reform, they adamantly oppose the excise tax on health care benefits.

CEA President Phil Apruzzese says CEA and its local Associations could have collected even more signatures if there had been a longer time period to circulate the petitions.

“Given the short time frame and the large number of teachers who signed these petitions, this sends a strong message to our representatives about why we object to the excise tax and the serious impact it will have on teachers,” says Apruzzese.

“If the excise tax remains in the final bill that is approved and signed into law, it will place an unacceptable burden on our members – with approximately 40 percent being affected in the very first year.”

The petition called taxing health care benefits  “bad public policy” that would force employers to cut back health care benefits to avoid the tax or pass the new tax onto employees.

The petition noted that there are other options to pay for health care reform. For example, the proposed health care reform bill passed by the U.S. House funds health care reform by making large employers pay toward their workers’ coverage and adds a modest surtax on the wealthiest Americans.

“We are urging our representatives to ensure that the funding mechanism for this much needed health care reform is not in the form of an excise tax,” says CEA Executive Director John Yrchik.

For more information on the consequences of an excise tax on health care benefits, read the column by John Yrchik and Phil Apruzzese on page two of the December/January CEA Advisor.

20 Comments
  1. Why must the Senate target the middle class yet again? Why not use the House version that taxes the wealthy on the $5 trillion they split in the form of tax cuts over the last 9 years? Teachers have “Cadillac” healthcare plans? Hardly! Though this may be as close as a teacher ever gets to anything with the name Cadillac on it…

    January 12, 2010
  2. Pete Silva #

    Thanks to all who signed the petition. It is so important to read the articles on this blog, to check in on our CEA website and to follow requests made by our leadership from contacting our legistators to signing petitions. It is the only way to stand up for students, teachers and learning in our state.

    January 12, 2010
  3. @Danny – glad you enjoy the blog!

    January 4, 2010
  4. Danny Boy #

    Wow! Communication has come a long way!

    January 4, 2010
  5. Danny Boy #

    I’m glad I did too!

    January 4, 2010
  6. CEA supporter #

    This website is terrific. Not only is it filled with important information for teachers but it gives us the opportunity to respond to what’s happening in our state and hear the concerns and issues of other teachers here in Connecticut. So often we only discuss issues with our own small group of co teachers. It’s important to read what others across the state are thinking and feeling about the educational concerns facing all of us today! Thank you for this blog!!

    January 4, 2010
  7. Cheryle Cassidy #

    Teachers are already being hit with no raises in the next contracts. Taxing the health care means our pay actually will decrease in the next year.

    January 2, 2010
  8. Mildred S. Donohue #

    Great information on your website. I’ve just logged in for the first time and will continue to keep posted.

    M. Donohue

    December 27, 2009
  9. Amy #

    I agree the government debt is growing at a rapid pace. They need to learn how to balance and reduce it. Until that happens any programs that is voted in will be done on the backs of the middle class.

    December 26, 2009
  10. A VERY concerned CT teacher #

    Everyone should get their heads out of the sand. If you have Anthem, you have a “cadillac” plan. Teachers in CT HAVE cadillac plans. Towns and cities won’t be able to afford to keep teachers on their current healthcare plans if this legislation is passed.

    I read both HR 3962 and 3590. I was appalled, disgusted and dismayed by what Congress wants to impose on us. Having taught American history and government for over 30 years, I’ve read a lot of legislation and have always been able to interpret the text. These two bills are massive and every other line refers to a code, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security laws that are also being changed. One must constantly refer to those laws in order to even attempt to read these bills. One section says “this tax will not be treated as a tax”. UH?
    Maybe it’s about time, educators in CT and around this country read the bills. Check out http://thomas.loc.gov/ You’ll see them at the top of the page in red.

    This was the Capitol Report that I receive from CEA. Anyone can sign up to receive it in email.

    Urgent: Call Congressional Representatives
    Tell Them Not to Tax Teacher Health Plans

    One of the least known and little understood provisions of the health care reform bill currently before the Senate is an excise tax on high-cost health plans. This is a vital issue for Connecticut teachers. If a final health care reform bill passes with this tax, teachers across the state would likely be forced into health insurance plans that are inferior to the ones they currently have.

    In the pending bill, employer-provided health plans that cost more than $23,000 for family coverage and $8500 for an individual will be subject to an excise tax of 40% on the amount of the plan that exceeds the threshold. High cost states like Connecticut will be have the thresholds increase by 20% in the first year. This would mean, for example, that the threshold for a family plan in Connecticut the first year would be $27,600 as opposed to $23,000. This initial advantage will decline to 10% in 2014 and 5% in 2015. The threshold for retirees would be $1350 above active employees for single coverage and $3000 for family coverage ($30,600 as opposed to $27,600).

    The tax will be applied to health, dental, and vision benefits. Average contributions to flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts, and health retirement accounts will also come under the umbrella of the tax. All of these benefits will be added together to determine if an employer plan exceeds the threshold. In the proposed legislation, it doesn’t matter if you are paying a portion of your premium. The amount you pay will not be deducted from the total cost of the plan.

    The proposed tax would go into effect on 2013. It’s so complicated that it’s hard for the average person to understand how he or she will be affected. An example will help to illustrate its effects. Consider a district of about 450 members currently paying almost $25,000 for combined health and dental premiums. If premiums were to go up an average of 7.5% per year, the cost of the tax between 2013 and 2019 would be $9,951,000, an average cumulative tax burden per person per year of over $3700.

    Retirees are not immune from this tax either. Though the threshold is slightly higher for retirees, they too will be carried over it.

    One thing no one is talking about is the fact that the excise tax will fall harder on those plans in which women predominate. Because claims utilization is higher among women than men, plans with a higher proportion of women tend to be more expensive than plans in which the genders are more balanced. About 70% of CEA’s teacher members are women and this is one of the factors contributing to the cost of school district health insurance plans. The excise tax would therefore have a disproportionate and therefore prejudicial effect on school district plans.

    We need to let our Congressional representatives know that teachers in Connecticut are unalterably opposed to any excise tax in the health care reform bill.

    —-
    This is a site with a COMPLETE list for Congress (all states) and governors of each state. Just click on the legislators’ names and you’ll be taken to their website where you can email or call them.
    http://conservativeusa.org/mega-cong.htm

    Neither of these bills, in my opinion, are good for Americans. Latest reports today say that the CBO just reported that they will increase the deficit. The CBO is nonpartisan. Do we want our children and grandchildren to foot the bill for this legislation? I don’t….

    December 23, 2009
  11. Monroe Teacher #

    I’m happy to say many at my school signed this petition. Let’s hope it’ll do some good.

    December 23, 2009
  12. Kim #

    Thanks for all the useful information

    December 23, 2009
  13. Woody #

    I enjoy reading the CEA Blog. It is up to date with information

    December 23, 2009
  14. Concerned Teacher #

    I support affordable, accessible healthcare for everyone. Our government has to learn how to budget money just like the rest of us do. Until that happens, this “plan” will never work out to benefit anyone!

    December 23, 2009
  15. Jerry Foote #

    I don’t get it. For months we were told by the CEA and NEA to contact our representatives in Washington to encourage them to pass health care reform. All versions of any bill discussed contained a redistribution of health care, albeit called other names. But it was obvious to anyone that providing health care to all and funding it with taxpayers money was going to involve some giving up somewhere else.

    Now the CEA and NEA want us to contact our representatives in Washington to tell them we want health care reform, but we don’t want to pay for it. You can’t have it both ways. (Interestingly, AARP did the same flip-flop.)
    The Senators and Representatives that are supporting the current bill, including the excise tax, were sort of “hand picked” by the CEA and NEA in their endorsements of candidates during the past few elections. These are our reps. Let them do the job we asked them to do months ago – to even the paying field so all would enjoy some health care, and we all would have to pay for it, through increased costs or reduced benefits.

    Now we have a proposed plan that fines the uninsured if they don’t buy insurance. Of course, after they pay the fine they still won’t have coverage an will still expect free treatment at the emergency room.

    If we could have just implemented a plan that would drive down the cost of insurance and provided regulations to ensure companies would have to provide access to all, it would have gained wide support. But we chose the all or nothing approach, which so often in history gives us delayed and inadequate results.

    Yep, I’m a free market sort of guy.

    December 23, 2009
  16. Sue #

    I enjoy reading the blog. It makes the information so much more accessible to many.

    December 23, 2009
  17. Sara T. #

    Agreed– this is one bill we cannot afford! Sign those petitions!

    December 23, 2009
  18. Paul Kemp #

    Proud to say our school did our part. Each of us needs to take time out to help our profession.

    Let’s hope this does some good.

    December 23, 2009
  19. Josh #

    I don’t believe that a teachers insurance plan is a “cadillac” plan. It is a small token to the fair compensation we deserve for the job we do. Secondly it behooves a district to take care of their teachers because the cost to supply substitutes both financially and on the education provided has to be considered. Our insurance is good As it should be. Teachers cannot afford their health benefits to increase in cost for to many reasons.

    December 23, 2009
  20. Ledyard Teacher #

    I wrote – I’m glad I did. I am also glad that healthcare reform looks like it will be approved.

    December 23, 2009

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