Health Care Reform - Key Messages
Quality, Affordable Health Care for All
- More than 48 million Americans—including 9 million children-- have no health coverage – and with the economy in a downturn, more will lose coverage unless we pass reform now.
- Health care premiums for 2008 cost, on average, more than $12,000 for a family of four – and are rising four times faster than inflation.
- Congress needs to pass reform this year. The public overwhelmingly supports reform – as do the President and key congressional leaders. Delay is the enemy of reform.
- Health care reform must ensure that every person in America has quality, affordable health care coverage. Not only is this a moral imperative, it is a key component of controlling spiraling health care costs. Sub-standard care is hurting millions of patients.
- Health care reform is a crucial ingredient for great public schools for all students. Students can't learn unless they come to school healthy.
- The lack of necessary medical services creates a serious impediment to learning. Families with access to regular medical care are more likely to keep the entire family healthy and create a better learning environment within the home.
Taxation of Benefits
- Many public education employees have traded salary increases for the long-term security of a comprehensive health plan. Telling them benefits will be cut or that they will pay more taxes would unfairly penalize them.
- A health care tax would unfairly penalize experienced educators who, after years of dedicated service, have climbed to the top of salary schedules.
- Limiting or capping the tax exclusion for health benefits could discourage highly qualified workers from entering or staying in the profession.
- Eliminating or capping the tax exclusion would remove a key incentive for employers to provide coverage.
- Taxing benefits would encourage younger and healthier workers to pass up employer-sponsored coverage and seek less expensive, less comprehensive coverage, driving up the cost of coverage for older and less healthy workers.
- Taxing benefits would undermine the quality of coverage by driving highly-paid employees with higher marginal tax rates to demand that employers reduce coverage. While such employees may be able to afford high deductibles and reductions in coverage, it will be a financial burden for average families.
- Capping or eliminating the tax exclusion for employer sponsored health benefits would place the burden more heavily on some workers than others. Coverage is more expensive for employers whose workforces are older or female-dominated such as education. Premiums vary by geography and by industry. Coverage costs more for small employers, compared with large employers. It is inequitable to tax workers more, for the same coverage, because of who they work for, what they do or where they work.
Government-Sponsored Public Plan
- Health reform should guarantee a choice of plans and providers through a private health insurance plan, including one that an employee may currently have through his or her employer, and a public health insurance plan option.
- The public health insurance option will compete with the private insurance industry in terms of cost and quality.
- This choice is a fundamental feature of an American solution for health reform and another critical piece of cost control.