The Senate Finance Committee has passed an amendment sponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) 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 included in the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act, which passed the Senate Finance Committee this week. Extending the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) is of particular importance to retired United Steelworkers and Delphi salaried retirees struggling to maintain affordable healthcare. In addition to Brown and Portman, the amendment is cosponsored by Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).
“This amendment means that hardworking families who lost their health care coverage, pension, and other benefits will receive the assistance they need to help pay their health care bills,” Brown said. “The Health Coverage Tax Credit also helps the more than 20,000 Delphi salaried retirees who lost significant amounts of their hard-earned pensions and who now face financial hardship.”
“Thousands of Delphi Salaried Retirees and their families depend on the Health Coverage Tax Credit, and I’m pleased that today we were able to ensure that this credit will again be available for them,” Portman said. “These 20,000 families rely on the HCTC for affordable health insurance after their pensions were terminated, and we should make it a top priority to help these hard-working families regain the financial security that our government took from them.”
As a result of Congressional inaction, the HCTC expired 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 makes health insurance more affordable by providing a 72.5 percent 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. Today’s amendment would extend the tax credit at its current rate of 72.5 percent for an additional two years. This extension will keep health care affordable for these hardworking individuals who might otherwise not be insured through 2016.
When Delphi’s defined benefit pension plan was terminated, 20,000 Delphi salaried retirees lost up to 70 percent in benefits, including 5,000 Ohioans. Of the 5,000 Delphi salaried retirees and their families in Ohio, about 1,500 are in the Mahoning Valley, 2,000 are in the Dayton area, and a majority of the remaining 1,500 are in Columbus and Sandusky.
“When American workers lose their jobs to foreign outsourcing, the last thing they should have to worry about is how they’ll afford health care coverage for their family. That’s why today’s vote to extend the Health Coverage Tax Credit is so meaningful – it shows the men and women who’ve made up the backbone of our nation’s economic engine that they can count on us, just as we’ve counted on them,” said Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Health Care. “I want to thank Senator Brown for making sure our workers can have the peace of mind that comes with health care coverage, and for his steadfast commitment to boosting workers in West Virginia, Ohio and beyond.”