Brown and Portman Urge Senate Leaders to Extend Health Coverage Tax Credit for Delphi Retirees

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) urged Senate leaders to maintain an extension of the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) in the tax extenders package, which they urge passage of before the 113th Congress adjourns for the year. Extending the Health Coverage Tax Credit is of particular importance to retired United Steelworkers and Delphi salaried retirees struggling to maintain affordable healthcare.

“Without the HCTC, which expired on January 1, 2014, these salaried retirees face financial hardship with up to 50 percent of their remaining pension going to fund their health care premiums,” the senators wrote. “The Delphi retirees have spent all of this year paying for health care out of their own modest income. If Congress fails to act, these retirees will continue to struggle to pay their health care expenses. This is an issue that cannot wait. We urge you to pass the two-year HCTC extension as part of the tax extenders package before Congress adjourns.”

Earlier this year, the Senate Finance Committee passed an amendment sponsored by Brown and Portman that would extend the Health Coverage Tax Credit (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 a tax extenders passage.

Brown, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, has a long history of working to ensure Deplhi workers have access to affordable health coverage. 

  • Dec. 2013: Brown introduced an amendment to the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) to extend HCTC for one year.
  • Aug. 2013: Brown introduced the Health Care Coverage for Displaced Works Act, to permanently extend and expand the HCTC as a part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program.
  • April. 2013: Brown introduced bipartisan amendment to extend HCTC for two years. The amendment is included in the EXPIRE Act, a bipartisan bill that passed the Senate Finance Committee.
  • Sept. 2012: Brown introduced legislation to require certain proceeds from sale of government GM stock towards Delphi pensions and help cover the cost of health care.
  • Oct. 2011: Brown led Senate passage of TAA and HCTC extension, which provided 65 percent health coverage rebate for Delphi retirees who enroll in the program, through January 1: 2014.
  • Jan. 2011: Brown introduced legislation to extend the HCTC for an additional 18 months.
  • Dec. 2010: Brown struck a last-minute deal with Senate Republicans to extend HCTC through the holiday season before passing long-term extension.
  • Sept. 2009: Brown introduced legislation to create a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) to provide health coverage to Delphi salaried and union hourly workers.

The senators’ letter can be found below.

November 20, 2014

Senator Harry Reid                                                Senator Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader                                                     Republican Leader
U.S. Senate                                                         U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510                                         Washington, D.C. 20510

Senator Ron Wyden                                               Senator Orrin Hatch
Chairman                                                            Ranking Member
Committee on Finance                                           Committee on Finance
U.S. Senate                                                        U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510                                        Washington, D.C. 20510

 

Dear Leaders Reid and McConnell, Chairman Wyden and Senator Hatch:

We wish to reaffirm our strong support for an extension of the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) before the 113th Congress adjourns for the year.  As you know, the HCTC provision was a bipartisan amendment to the Senate tax extenders package that was introduced in the Senate by Senator Sherrod Brown and Senator Rob Portman. Bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House by Congressman Tim Ryan and Congressman Michael Turner. A March 2014 letter supporting the HCTC was signed by 28 Members of Congress and Senators from across the country, and is attached for your reference.

Across the country, the HCTC has helped tens of thousands of struggling families pay their health bills.  These families include thousands of Delphi retirees whose pensions were terminated during the GM rescue and subsequently turned over to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation.  As you know well, many of 20,000 Delphi salaried retirees lost significant portions of their promised pensions.

Without the HCTC, which expired on January 1, 2014, these salaried retirees face financial hardship with up to 50 percent of their remaining pension going to fund their health care premiums. The Delphi retirees have spent all of this year paying for health care out of their own modest income. If Congress fails to act, these retirees will continue to struggle to pay their health care expenses. This is an issue that cannot wait. We urge you to pass the two-year HCTC extension as part of the tax extenders package before Congress adjourns.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Sincerely,

 

Rob Portman                                                               Sherrod Brown

U.S. Senate                                                                 U.S. Senate

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Press Contact

Meghan Dubyak/Lauren Kulik (Brown) 202-224-3978

Caitlin Conant/Christyn Keyes (Portman): 202-224-5190