In a major victory for the IAFF, as part of an omnibus spending package to fund the government through next year, Congress approved a two-year delay of the Cadillac tax: a 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans that was scheduled to take effect in 2018.
In addition to the two-year delay, several other tweaks to the tax were added, including an inflation adjusted increase in the premium caps, a GAO study on the feasibility of the health plan used by government workers as a benchmark for the law’s age and gender adjustments and the ability for employers to deduct excise tax payments.
While Congress did not fully repeal the tax at this time, delaying this onerous tax is a major victory. Since its enactment as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the IAFF and its members have been the leading advocate on Capitol Hill opposing this tax.
When discussions started early last January on taking action to repeal the tax, and Congress was silent on the issue, it was the IAFF that helped lead the charge. In just 10 short months, efforts at the local and national levels yielded tremendous legislative results. Dozens of labor, business and advocacy groups joined the call to take action and demand that the tax be fully repealed.
Bi-partisan bills were introduced with more than 340 co-sponsors, 90 senators voted to fully repeal the tax in early December and every major presidential candidate on both sides of the aisle have come out against this damaging policy.
Whether it was lobbying members during the IAFF’s Legislative Conference or making calls and attending in-district meetings with key congressional staff, fire fighters across the country have made this issue a top priority, and today’s vote is a reward for those hard-fought efforts.
While the IAFF and its allies have won the battle, the war for protecting workers’ health care is not over. Speaking on today’s vote, General President Harold Schaitberger said, “The move by Congress today is certainly a step in the right direction, but in no way does it offer the type of relief that [our members] and workers deserve." He added, “The IAFF and its members will continue to pursue full repeal of this ill-conceived law.”
Congress will now adjourn for the year and head home for Christmas break, but this union will not stop fighting. When the New Year begins and Congress returns to Washington for work, the IAFF and its members will pick up where they left off with one goal in mind – to fully repeal the Cadillac tax.
The two-year delay extends into 2017 with a new presidential administration and Congress. All major candidates running for president in 2016 support a full repeal of the tax.