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Congresswoman Hirono Urges House Speaker To Reject Excise Tax On Health Care Benefits

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i) addressed the media today at the Capitol Building in support of a letter by Congressman Joe Courtney (D-Connecticut) urging Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to reject any excise tax on high-cost health care benefit plans. The letter has been signed by more than sixty percent of the House Democratic Caucus.

In the letter delivered to the Speaker, Congressman Courtney, Congresswoman Hirono and the 155 cosigners express their opposition to the Senate Finance Committee's proposal to place a 40 percent excise tax on high-cost health care benefit plans, which the House Members believe would be passed along by the insurers to working families and individuals.

Click here to download letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Hirono joined Representatives Courtney, Pete Stark (D-California), Sander Levin (D-Michigan), and Betty Sutton (D-Ohio) who all spoke on behalf of working families and individuals.

"In Hawai‘i, our state employees pay 40 percent of their health insurance premium or about $500 for a family plan," said Congresswoman Hirono. "Premiums have increased by about 24 percent and the Governor is now requiring that state employees pay the full cost of the increase."

"I am now hearing stories such as a single mother cancelling her family plan because she couldn't afford this increase and still put food on the table. Her children are now enrolled in Medicaid and she lives in fear that she will get sick."

The Senate Finance Committee's proposed 40 percent excise tax included in America's Health Future Act will inevitably be passed onto insurance purchasers. Beginning in 2013, the threshold for individual plans will be $8,000 and $21,000 for family coverage which has already been surpassed by many middle-income Americans. For middle-income Americans that have forgone wage and salary increases for strong insurance benefits, these thresholds are simply too low.

"As a member of the Education and Labor Committee, one of the three committees charged with shaping health care reform legislation, I hope that the Speaker rejects this proposal from the Finance Committee. The excise tax is anti-middle class, anti-small business, and anti-labor," said Congresswoman Hirono.

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