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Pursuit of real health care reform continues

NEA says Senate bill penalizes working Americans

WASHINGTON - December 24, 2009 -

The National Education Association, who, with the support of its 3.2 million members, has worked hard to support comprehensive healthcare reform, today expressed disappointment that health care reform legislation passed by the Senate this morning, includes a provision that will tax the health care plans of millions of middle class Americans. Despite claims by some that the proposed excise tax could lead to increases in salaries for some workers, NEA has consistently argued that those assumptions are incorrect. The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

"The 3.2 million members of NEA are very disappointed that the Senate has chosen to finance healthcare reform on the backs of teachers and bus drivers, instead of millionaires. Educators have worked tirelessly over the last 11 months to support the overall goal of quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans. While there are a number of positive provisions in the Senate healthcare legislation, the NEA adamantly opposes taxing the health benefits of middle class families. The fact that insurance companies have drastically increased premiums for our members' plans, year after year, because of factors outside their control is not the fault of our members. Public school employees have given up salary increases in order to maintain their health benefits for themselves and their families. The excise tax in the Senate bill will lead to benefit cuts and increased out-of-pocket payments for education professionals who already are struggling financially. Furthermore, educators' employers-state and local governments-are in severe fiscal crisis. Thousands of educators lost their jobs last year, and the forecast for the coming school year is worse. We categorically reject the notion that an excise tax on the health benefits of dedicated public school employees is either fair or sound policy.

"In short, the House got it right: quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans which is paid for responsibly and fairly. We are encouraged that members of the House share our belief that a nation as great as ours can bring real reform to our health care system. NEA will redouble its efforts to ensure that the conference committee reports a bill that does not ask more of education employees and other working Americans than it asks of millionaires."

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: René Carter (202) 822-7823,