WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced a bill to extend the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) for struggling workers and families. Extending the HCTC is of particular importance to retired Delphi salaried retirees and United Steelworkers struggling to maintain affordable healthcare. U.S. Reps. Mike Turner (R-OH-10) and Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) introduced a similar bill in the House.

“Delphi retirees and their families rely on the Health Care Tax Credit as a bridge to affordable health coverage,” Brown said. “This bill would provide relief for the thousands of Delphi workers and their families who have been forced to wait too long. This is an issue that cannot wait.”

“Thousands of Delphi Salaried Retirees and their families depend on the Health Coverage Tax Credit,” Portman stated. “Our bill will help these hard-working families regain the financial security that was lost through no fault of their own.” 

The HCTC helps trade-affected workers, select groups of retirees – like Delphi salaried retirees – and their families purchase private health coverage to replace the employer-sponsored coverage they lost. It makes health insurance more affordable by providing a 72.5 percent refundable tax credit to eligible workers enrolled in a qualified health plan, allowing these people to pay only a portion of their qualified health insurance. The HCTC serves as an important bridge for retirees who are still too young to be eligible for Medicare benefits. This bill would extend the HCTC for five years, along with retroactively covering the workers since the HCTC lapsed in January 2014.

Brown and Portman have long championed this issue, which is critical to the 5,000 Ohio Delphi salaried retirees and their families stretching from the Mahoning Valley to the Miami Valley. Last month, Brown and Portman introduced an amendment to a veterans’ health bill to extend HCTC in the Finance Committee. In Dec. 2014, Brown and Portman – along with eight other senators – introduced an amendment to the tax extenders legislation that would extend the HCTC.

In April 2014, the Senate Finance Committee passed an amendment, sponsored by Brown, Portman, and others, that would extend the HCTC for retirees who lost their health care coverage—in addition to their pensions and other benefits—when the companies for which they worked either entered into bankruptcy or moved operations overseas. The amendment was passed during the Senate Finance Committee’s consideration of the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act. Unfortunately, the House and Senate passed a short-term tax extenders bill rather than the two-year, comprehensive bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee.