By Randi Weingarten, Lee Saunders and D. Taylor
(Via The Hill) For five years, Republicans lobbed every criticism imaginable at the Affordable Care Act, while Democrats defended it against every critique. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in what is likely the final major legal challenge to healthcare reform, it’s time for leaders of both parties to put politics aside and start the real work of ensuring the law fulfills its promise.
Members of our respective unions have fought long and hard for high-quality, affordable health coverage for their families, often at the expense of wage increases. We support the ACA as a major step toward ensuring all Americans have that same security. But like Medicare and Medicaid before it, the ACA needs tweaks to really deliver for working families.
So we’re glad presidential candidates are looking not only at the benefits of ACA but also at the aspects that need fixing. And we’re glad that fixing the ACA is becoming a bipartisan issue. Congressional coalitions led by Reps. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) and Frank Guinta (R-N.H.) are taking on one of the clearest of the ACA’s flaws: a 40 percent excise tax on health benefits above $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families.
The 40 percent tax creates a huge incentive for employers to cut costs by cutting benefits and shifting costs onto workers. Even though the tax won’t go into effect until 2018, employers already are slashing benefits in anticipation of it, forcing millions of families to become seriously underinsured. This is possibly the ACA’s most dangerous trend.