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"Congress would work far more effectively if every congressman took the approach of U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney" New London Day, 10/31/2012
"Courtney has shown himself to be a dedicated public servant and tireless worker committed to serving the needs of Eastern Connecticut" Norwich Bulletin, 10/28/2012
"Courtney is a bright, energetic and hard-working member of Congress who has earned another term." Hartford Courant, 10/25/2012



What has been described as the next big battle over the 2010 Affordable Care Act got a boost Tuesday from Rep. Joseph D. Courtney, D-2nd District.

The five-term congressman from Vernon unveiled a bill backed by both business and labor organizations that would repeal a controversial excise tax on higher cost health insurance benefits slated to take effect in three years.

Courtney and a slew of other Democrats who supported the overall health care legislation had opposed the so-called “Cadillac tax,” which was not included in the original House bill in 2009.

Nonetheless, the levy intended to reduce health care usage and costs by getting employers to offer more cost-effective insurance plans made it into the final version of the legislation, albeit with a provision backed by Courtney and 191 other House members that delayed its implementation until 2018.

Employers then face a 40 percent tax on health insurance expenditures over $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage.

Courtney cited studies showing that the tax would have a disproportionate and rapidly increasing impact on older workers, women, and workers in high health care cost regions, including the Northeast.

The employee benefits firm Towers-Watson, he said, has projected that 80 percent of companies nationwide would incur the tax after just five years.

Courtney said the levy was “poorly designed” and would hurt families and businesses with health insurance plans that don’t resemble the Cadillac plans it originally targeted.

The tax instead would “punish people living in higher cost areas with Ford Focus level plans,” he said.

“The Affordable Care Act has already made great strides in controlling the growth in health care costs — the supposed aim of the excise tax provision — through smart reforms in payment models, and emphasizing prevention, cancer screenings, and wellness checkups,” he said. “The excise tax is not a smart reform — it is a flawed, one-size-fits-all penalty that will degrade workers’ benefits, lead employers to choose less comprehensive plans, and force families to pay more out-of-pocket health care costs.”

Courtney said his bill had been endorsed by more than two dozen business, labor, and health groups, including the AFL-CIO and various other unions, America’s Health Insurance Plans, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Counties.

Joseph F. Brennan, president of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said it was critical to repeal the excise tax before it causes any more market disruption.

The “specter” of the tax, he said, “only adds to the difficulty of providing affordable, comprehensive health benefits” to employees, and that “the lack of predictability is particularly vexing.”