Wednesday, January 13, 2010

TODAY: National Call-In Blitz for Health Care Reform

By Mike Hall, Jan 13, 2010 AFL-CIO

Today is the AFL-CIO National Call-In Blitz for health care reform.

Call 1-877-3-AFLCIO (1-877-323-5246) toll-free and urge your representative to support working families by voting for health care reform that:

• Does NOT tax our health care benefits;

• Requires employers to pay their fair share; and

• Reduces health care costs—the best way to do this is with a public health insurance option.

In the meantime, here’s a look at some of the latest news across the country on health care reform:

• Following his address to the National Press Club on the nation’s jobs and economic crisis, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and other union leaders met with President Obama at the White House to discus how the final health care reform legislation should be shaped, especially the tax on working families’ health benefits that is part of the Senate-passed bill.

The New York Times reports that during the hourlong meeting, Obama repeated his support for some form a health care benefits tax, but “used Monday’s session to search for a sort of compromise.” In a statement following the meeting, Trumka said it was “frank and productive meeting between friends on moving forward on health care reform.”

• Allan Sloan, senior editor at Fortune magazine (hardly a pro-union, left-leaning, tax-the-rich journal), writes in a Washington Post op-ed today that despite claims that the tax on “Cadillac” health care plans would finance health care reform, more than 80 percent of the money to finance the plan would come from individuals paying higher income, Social Security and Medicare taxes—and the biggest portion of that money would come from people who make less than $200,000. Sloan adds:

The impact on people in the $1 million-plus range—most of whom probably really are rich—is relatively trivial.

• Several studies show the tax on workers’ health benefits impacts regular folks with basic “Chevy” plans and likely won’t result in employers returning the tax to workers in the form of higher wages. Studies also show that no one really knows if the benefits tax would reduce overall health care costs.

• While pundits have been pontificating about the mostly cons of the tax on workers’ health care, everyday folks have more down-to-earth descriptions. Check out the comments’ section following Art Levine’s recent Truthout post about the possible political fallout if the tax lives. Real anger there.

• Who really spawned this awful idea to tax working families on their health benefits? PaulVA at Daily Kos reveals it was the gleam in the eye of the Heritage Foundation in 1973 and was given birth by Ronald Reagan when he proposed it in 1985. However Reagan, showing his political savvy,dropped this tax like a hot potato once he found out it was so unpopular.