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Educators welcome education investments to create more opportunities for students

Congress also creates an important two-year delay of the excise tax on high-cost health plans


WASHINGTON - December 18, 2015 -

Congress today approved the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, a bill that among other things, keeps the federal government open for business, and includes targeted funding for critical education programs for students most in need as well as a much-needed two-year delay of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) excise tax on high-cost plans. Although NEA continues to support the ACA, the Association also has called this provision misguided while leading efforts to repeal the excise tax.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García issued the following statement:

“As Congress wraps up its work for the year, we commend lawmakers for providing much-needed and timely investments in education programs aimed at creating more opportunity for all students regardless of ZIP code. Educators, students, and families especially welcome the targeted investments in education programs designed to help students in poverty, children with disabilities, and those students most in need. The funding Congress just approved will go a long way in giving every student the opportunity, support, tools and resources to succeed.

“Educators nationwide today also are breathing a sigh of relief because Congress approved an important two-year delay on a new tax that would have hit the health benefits of millions of working families. They will head into the holiday season now knowing that this looming tax, which would have disproportionally affected women, older employees, and workers in markets where health care simply costs more, is on pause for at least two years. We believe repealing the excise tax is an important and necessary improvement to the Affordable Care Act, a law we strongly support.

“Coupled with the recent historic approval of the Every Student Succeeds Act, with the strong support of the NEA, Congress ends the year on a high note. We applaud policymakers for sharing our policy and budget priorities and putting students, educators, and working families ahead of politics especially in a time of political gridlock.”

About the excise tax’s impact on working families
In April, NEA released an actuarial report showing that although the excise tax is often referred to as a tax on overly generous health benefits, the tax is likely to be driven by other things—including where health plan members live, their age and their sex. The excise tax wrongly equates high premiums with generous health benefits. It is so flawed, in fact, that some health plans offering moderate benefits will face a steep tax, while plans with better benefits may not face any tax at all. Similarly, a plan for workers who live in a city with high health care costs might generate a large tax, while workers with the exact same health benefits in a lower-cost area might cause no tax at all.

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The National Education Association (www.nea.org) is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez  202-822-7823, mgonzalez@nea.org