Cynthia Leonor Garza
WASHINGTON—The healthcare reform package Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has announced he will introduce represents a significant effort to find a middle ground, and the American Federation of Teachers commends his strong leadership and dedication on behalf of every American. We urge the Senate to vote to allow consideration of this bill, and to bring us closer than we have ever been to passing landmark legislation.
While the bill is a good start, the AFT is strongly opposed to the provision that places an excise tax on employer-provided health insurance. If enacted, this policy will encourage employers and insurance companies to cut health benefits to avoid this tax. Over time, this will shift increased healthcare costs to most of the 160 million nonunion and union workers and their families who depend on employer-provided coverage. Our healthcare system cannot be reformed by making it less affordable and less accessible for those who already have it. This is the wrong approach, and the provision should be defeated.
The passage of the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) by the House of Representatives on Nov. 7 represented a historic milestone. On behalf of our more than 1.4 million members, the AFT encourages the Senate to continue the momentum toward making affordable, high-quality healthcare a reality for all Americans.