WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bipartisan group of 10 senators – led by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – introduced an amendment to the tax extenders legislation that would extend the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) to help retirees maintain affordable healthcare. The HCTC is a critical lifeline for retired United Steelworkers and Delphi salaried 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.
“We shouldn’t enact tax relief for corporations but overlook more than 20,000 Delphi salaried retirees – who need help paying medical bills,” Brown said. “This amendment will help hardworking families who lost their health care coverage, pension, and other benefits – through no fault of their own – receive the assistance they need to make ends meet.”
In addition to Brown, U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Robert P. Casey (D-PA), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) cosponsored the amendment which would extend the HCTC through January 1, 2016.
As a result of House inaction, the HCTC expired at the end of 2013. The credit 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, allowing these workers to pay only a portion of their qualified health insurance. Often the HCTC serves as an important bridge for Americans until they become eligible for Medicare benefits.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives released a tax proposal that did not include an extension the HCTC. Following those reports, Brown, Baldwin, Cardin, Casey, Donnelly, Rockefeller, Schumer, and Stabenow called on Speaker John Boehner and Leader Nancy Pelosi to include the HCTC into omnibus legislation.
Earlier this year, the Senate Finance Committee passed an amendment, sponsored by Brown, Portman, Rockefeller, Casey, Schumer, and Stabenow, 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.
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.