U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has released figures highlighting the number of children in Ohio with pre-existing conditions who, thanks to the health law, will be protected from discrimination based on their health.
“There are more than 643,000 Ohio children with pre-existing conditions whose families no longer have to fear that their insurance coverage could be terminated or denied altogether,” Brown said. “We must do everything we can to protect our children and ensure that they are healthy. We cannot go back to the days where a child with cancer, asthma, or diabetes could be discriminated against by insurance companies trying to maintain a higher profit margin.”
Because of the health law, since 2010 insurance companies have been prohibited from denying health coverage for the up to 17 million children — including up to 643,000 in Ohio — with pre-existing conditions such as cancer, asthma, or diabetes. Starting in 2014, insurance companies will also no longer be able to deny coverage for adults or charge anyone higher premiums based on health status or history.
In another matter, Brown, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced an amendment to the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) that would extend the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) one year for Delphi salaried retirees.
This important tax credit would help the Delphi workers afford health coverage after losing much of their pensions and benefits. He was joined by U.S. Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
“While the HCTC is no substitute for a job, this is a fair extension of health care tax credits for workers who lose their jobs or retirees who lost their benefits due to no fault of their own,” Brown said. “The HCTC would ensure that the loss of their benefits doesn’t mean the loss of their health coverage.”
Without Congressional action, the HCTC will expire at the end of 2013. 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 currently makes health insurance coverage more affordable by providing a 72.5 percent tax credit to eligible workers. Today’s amendment would extend the tax credit at the same rate for an additional year.
In August, Brown introduced a bill with Rockefeller and U.S. Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) to expand and permanently extend the HCTC for Delphi salaried retirees as a part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. The Health Care Coverage for Displaced Works Act would permanently extend the HCTC so that it no longer requires constant reauthorization, and expand the HCTC to 80 percent, a nearly ten percent increase from the current rate.
In April 2013, Brown announced that the Department of the Treasury agreed to meet with the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association (DSRA). This announcement came on the heels of Brown’s efforts to push the Obama Administration to meet with the Delphi salaried retirees and to pursue efforts that would restore the retirees’ pensions and benefits.
In September 2012, Brown and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (OH-13) introduced legislation that would restore the full pensions of Delphi retirees. The bill would transfer certain proceeds from the sale of government stock of General Motors to a fund at the U.S. Treasury Department that would supplement payment to the Delphi retirees. Earlier this year, Ryan introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives that would continue HCTC for Delphi Retirees.