January 14, 2010
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Healthcare Plan Excise Tax Compromise
AFT President Randi Weingarten was one of several labor leaders who helped negotiate a compromise with the Obama administration on excise taxes for healthcare plans.
WASHINGTON—Throughout the long debate over healthcare reform, the American Federation of Teachers’ goal has been legislation that makes high-quality healthcare affordable and accessible to all Americans. The road to that historic achievement necessarily involves compromise.
Today, labor leaders, working with the Obama administration, have reached an agreement addressing one of the toughest issues raised by the differing healthcare packages passed in the Senate and the House—how to pay for the reforms.
We were not able to achieve full repeal of the proposed excise tax, which was strongly supported by President Obama and by many in the Senate. But this compromise acknowledges that higher-cost healthcare plans are not necessarily high-end plans. Factors such as age, gender and living in high-cost areas can make plans more expensive and subject them to the tax. The adjustments contained in this compromise will take these factors into account and prevent many plans from being subject to the tax.
The AFT strongly opposed the excise tax on some employer-provided healthcare plans. Our members have sacrificed years of wage increases to keep good healthcare coverage. The strong opposition of our members and other working people to the excise tax made the discussions that led to these changes possible.
This compromise will apply to all healthcare plans—whether they are collectively bargained, purchased privately or simply offered by employers without negotiation.
This agreement reflects the unwavering commitment of President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and America’s labor movement to making our healthcare system work for all Americans.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.