Union counters White House on excise tax

Growing increasingly anxious at the direction in which healthcare reform is heading, the labor movement is sending yet another signal of friction with the White House.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) released a new report Thursday that counters analysis by one of President Barack Obama's senior aides that the Senate verison of the healthcare reform bill would not be tantamount to a tax hike on those making $250,000 or less. Unions are particularly troubled by the excise tax on high-cost, so-called "Cadillac" insurance plans, which would affect many of their members.

"This new data demonstrates irrefutably that the excise tax — which will result in reduced coverage and increased costs for our middle-class families — is the opposite of reform," said CWA President Larry Cohen in a statement. The CWA statement also makes note that its analysis "tells a different story" from a White House blog post published Wednesday by Jason Furman, deputy director of the National Economic Council.

In his blog post, Furman argued that the Senate bill would not raise taxes on the middle class. In addition, Furman cited data from the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) and said the proposed excise tax will affect only a small proportion of insurance plans, about 3 percent by 2013.

CWA, however, said Thursday that as time goes on, more plans will be affected by the tax. Using JCT data, the union said that 25 percent of the health insurance plans in 2019 will be affected by the tax.

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