WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), members of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced an amendment today to extend the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC). The senators’ bipartisan amendment to the Hire More Heroes Act – which the Senate Finance Committee is considering today – would extend the HCTC for three years.
“The Health Coverage Tax Credit ensures that the loss of a job doesn’t mean the loss of health coverage for workers who affected by unfair trade,” Brown said. “The HCTC is a critical bridge that helps ensure health care is affordable for tens of thousands of families. Delphi workers and their families have been forced to wait too long – it’s time to act now.”
“Delphi retirees and their families throughout Ohio have relied on the Health Coverage Tax Credit and I will fight to extend it this year to help them regain the financial security they’ve lost through no fault of their own,” Portman stated.
In addition to Brown and Portman, U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Ben Cardin (D-MD) cosponsored the amendment that would make the tax credit retroactive to Jan. 1, 2014 and extend HCTC through Dec. 31, 2016 to help retirees maintain affordable healthcare.
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.
In Dec. 2014, Brown and Portman – along with eight other senators – introduced an amendment to the tax extenders legislation that would extend the HCTC. Before that, Brown led a group of seven democratic Senators in calling on Speaker John Boehner and Leader Nancy Pelosi to include the HCTC into omnibus legislation.
In April 2014, 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. 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.