The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Carl Rauscher (Woolsey) 202-225-5161
Adam Sarvana (Grijalva) 202-225-2435

CPC Co-Chairs Release Statement Opposing Health Care Excise Tax

Telecom Leaders Join Unions in Opposing Health Care Excise Tax


Leaders of three top telecommunications
companies have joined with labor groups to oppose the Senate's proposed
excise tax on high-cost health plans.

In a letter to Majority Leader Harry
Reid, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson
called the excise tax a "misguided tool" that may have been "intended
to address only excessive or luxury plans" but will instead "impact the
health plans covering tens of millions of workers."

The letter, sent in December and also
signed by Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen and
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Edwin Hill,
predicts the 40% excise tax will "likely have the unintended effect of
discouraging the provision of employer-sponsored health coverage,
thereby undermining one of the goals of health reform legislation and
placing more of the cost and burden of providing this vital coverage
onto the federal government."

In a separate letter to U.S. Senators,
Qwest CEO Edward Mueller and Cohen argue that the excise tax will
reduce "benefit levels and increase premium cost-sharing for all Qwest
employees, retirees and their families."

"Business leaders are increasingly
recognizing that the proposed excise tax makes no sense for their
workers or their businesses," said Congressional Progressive Caucus
Co-Chair Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.). "Health care reform should be
financed by tax surcharges on the wealthy and not by taxes on health
insurance plans offered to middle-class workers, older persons and
union members."

Congressional Progressive Caucus
Co-Chair Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said he considers the excise
tax, opposed by major employers, labor unions and other groups, "a
burden that millions of American families cannot afford to pay. Health
care reform must be economically sustainable not only for the
government, but for working men and women around the country. Policies
that lead to reduced health care or potentially higher taxes
on middle income working families, people with disabilities and people
with chronic illnesses in the name of saving money are not policies
Congress should support."

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is made up of nearly 100 members standing up for progressive ideals in Washington and throughout the country. Since 1991, the CPC has advocated for progressive policies that prioritize working Americans over corporate interests, fight economic and social inequality, and advance civil liberties.

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