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Tell the Senate: Support Health Insurance Reform without Taxation of Benefits

CLEVELAND, November 24 — The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen is asking its members to call their Senators and urge them to vote against any attempt to tax the health care benefits of middle class Americans.

On November 21, the U.S. Senate voted to approve the motion to proceed with debate on a health insurance reform bill — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The bill is designed to provide all Americans access to quality, affordable health care and transform the health care system to contain costs. Unfortunately, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also currently includes a provision that would impose an excise tax on higher-cost health plans. The excise tax would be shifted onto workers and the middle class, and could force steep reductions in benefits or exorbitant increases in costs.

It is expected that the debate over amendments and the final vote will take place following the Thanksgiving recess. It is important that Senators understand the damage that the excise tax provision could have on working Americans, including BLET members.

Each year, an increasing number of families will become snared by the excise tax, as documented by the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT).

According to the JCT, in its first year (2013), the excise tax will affect 14% of family plans and 19% of single plans. By 2019, the tax will affect 31% of family plans and 24% of single plans. The excise tax will quickly hit tens of millions of people. In 2013, JCT estimates that the tax will hit 12.746 million households (or tax returns). In 2019, JCT estimates that it will hit 30.965 million households.

Furthermore, most of the taxed workers are low or middle income. Of all affected households in 2013, JCT estimates that 90.9% will earn below $200,000 and 49% will earn below $75,000. Of all affected households in 2019, JCT estimates that 91% will earn below $200,000 and 48.5% will earn below $75,000.

“While we agree that all Americans deserve health care coverage, it should not come at the expense of other American workers,” said BLET National President Paul Sorrow. “We have written to the Senate, as have the IBT, Rail Labor, the railroad industry, and most employers and representatives of working Americans; now it is time for all BLET members to make their voices heard.”

President Sorrow thanked Vice President & National Legislative Representative John Tolman and the National Legislative Office for the hard work they have done closely monitoring the situation and lobbying on behalf of the Brotherhood.

Please call and/or e-mail your Senators and inform them of the burden that the excise tax will put on working families and urge them to work to have the excise tax provision removed from the final bill. Call 1-877-264-4226 to be connected to your Senators’ offices, or send an e-mail right now.

E-mail addresses for your Senators can be found at www.senate.gov

A sample letter/email is provided below:

“Dear Senator,

"As the Senate begins debate on the Patient Protection and Affordability Act, I strongly urge you to oppose the inclusion of the provision that would impose an excise tax on insurers for higher-cost health care plans. Such a tax is simply a huge middle-class tax hike that the nation’s working families should not be forced to endure. The excise tax would be shifted onto workers and could force steep reductions in benefits or exorbitant increases in costs. These results are the opposite of what the legislation is intended to accomplish. America’s working families cannot afford such a tax increase. Please work to ensure the excise tax is not included in the final version of the Patient Protection and Affordability Act. Thank you.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

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