The 2017 fight to repeal the ill-conceived Cadillac Tax began this week when Representatives Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Mike Kelly (R-PA) introduced legislation, the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2017 (HR 173), that would eliminate the 40 percent tax on employer-provided health care. The IAFF had partnered with Representative Courtney in the last Congress to successfully delay the tax until 2019, and this bill marks the continued effort towards permanent elimination.
“It is a significant marker that legislation repealing the Cadillac tax is among the first bills introduced in the new Congress,” says General President Harold Schaitberger. “H.R. 173 is the next step towards repealing a tax that fire fighters didn’t want and from which fire fighters don’t benefit.”
The IAFF has long opposed any attempt to tax employer-provided health care. IAFF members place a high premium on the health benefits for which they sacrifice, and understand that taxing their health care dollars severely weakens that benefit. During the debate over the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the IAFF led the fight to preserve the employer-provided health insurance exclusion. Although successful in beating back efforts to cap the exclusion, the final bill contained the now infamous Cadillac tax, billed as an alternative way to reduce costs. At the time, the IAFF successfully weakened the provision by including a higher threshold for public safety workers, but has continued its work to eliminate the tax completely.
As the new Congress is sworn in, one of the first items on the Republican majority’s agenda is to repeal a significant portion of the ACA, which may include the Cadillac Tax. However, opponents of this tax cannot assume anything when it comes to the agenda of this new Congress, and must remain focused on supporting HR 173.
The IAFF will continue to advocate for HR 173 in order to highlight the importance of repealing this dangerous tax and more broadly opposing any tax on worker’s health care benefits.
Efforts are underway in the Senate to introduce a companion bill early this year.