Contact: Connie Mabin, 412-562-2616
PITTSBURGH -- Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers (USW) union, today said that the union is pleased with the progress that has been made to make health insurance reform legislation fairer for working families.
Gerard said: “Let’s be clear, no legislation is ever perfect. But for generations we’ve been fighting for health care for all in the United States, and we are too close to reaching a historical milestone on this long journey to turn back now.
Our union and others in the labor movement have worked hard to fight for reform that helps working families and that will lower the cost of health care for all Americans. It appears we’ve been able to improve reform for all working families – not just those in a union - with several significant changes to the proposed excise tax on expensive health care plans. We’re pleased with the progress but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop working to make this bill better.”
Some of the proposed changes include:
- Raising the level at which plans would be taxed to $24,000 for a family; $8,900 for singles and exempting dental and vision costs from these amounts. These thresholds would be raised for retirees 55 and older and for workers in high-risk professions.
- Raising the tax threshold for plans in certain high-cost states as well as plans with high numbers of women and older workers that require more expensive plans, allowing for more gender, age and geographic equity in health care.
- Exempting plans negotiated through collective bargaining for five years, providing critical time for employers and employees to transition.
- Allowing collectively bargained plans into the Exchange in 2017, giving workers more bargaining power.
The USW represents 850,000 workers in the U.S., Canada and Caribbean employed in the industries of metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service sector.