Andrew Pantelis, a Lieutenant with the Prince George’s County Fire and EMS Department in Landover, Md., says that taxing employer-provided health care benefits—a proposal before the so-called budget deficit “Super Committee”—would “hurt millions of working class Americans.”
Pantelis, president of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 1619, spoke at a Capitol Hill conference today where Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) released a letter to the Super Committee opposing elimination of the current tax exemption of the health care coverage employers receive at work. The letter was signed by 160 representatives of both parties.
Some 60 million Americans would face a bigger tax bill under the proposal. Says Pantelis:
Taxing our health benefits will mean that your neighborhood fire fighters along with police officers, coalminers, steelworkers, and other Americans in dangerous jobs will get taxed the most.
In the letter to the Super Committee the lawmakers write:
Efforts to cap or to eliminate these tax exclusions would have far-reaching consequences that would not only reduce health coverage for millions of Americans, but would also increase long-term federal spending obligations. Considering these consequences would negate federal tax income generated from the change and would have little impact on reducing our federal debt, we would encourage you to reject proposals to scale back or eliminate tax exclusions for employer-sponsored health coverage.
During the debate on health care reform in 2009 when the proposal to tax health benefits was brought up, the AFL-CIO’s Gerald Shea told a congressional hearing that taxing employer-provided health care.
is an extraordinarily bad idea that would undermine efforts to stabilize the employer-provided health care system. Employers would likely respond by increasing employee cost-sharing to a level at which benefits would become unaffordable for low-wage workers, or by eliminating benefits altogether.
Taxing health care benefits would not bring down health care costs, either. It would just shift more of those costs onto workers.
Click here for a copy of the Courtney/Cole letter.