Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a member of the Senate Committee on Finance, introduced a bipartisan amendment at the Finance Committee’s mark-up of health legislation to extend the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) for two years.  After debate on Portman’s amendment, which was cosponsored by Senators Brown (D-Ohio) and Stabenow (D-Mich.), Portman secured a commitment from the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee to work toward extending the HCTC when Congress renews Trade Adjustment Assistance early next year.  This is the first commitment from Senate leaders to work toward extending the HCTC, which expires January 1st.

Portman spoke about the effort at today’s mark-up.  Watch the video here

“I am pleased to secure a commitment from the Finance Committee Chairman to work toward extending the Health Coverage Tax Credit when the Senate considers Trade Adjustment Assistance.  Thousands of Delphi salaried retirees and their families have very little margin in their budgets after the Administration picked winners and losers in the auto bailout and stripped them of the financial security they deserved from years of work.  For these families, who face cost increases under Obamacare, even with the subsidies, the cascade of bad news is more than just a story on the evening news; they are dealing with the consequences daily,” said Portman.  “These 20,000 families have depended on the HCTC for affordable health insurance after their pensions were terminated.  Extending the HCTC is only fair for these workers, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to extend the HCTC soon.”

The HCTC is a vital tool for many Americans who have experienced job loss and receive Trade Adjustment Assistance or have had their defined benefit pension plans taken over by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), such as thousands of Delphi salaried retirees in Ohio.  Often the HCTC serves as an important bridge for Americans until they become eligible for Medicare benefits.  This amendment extends the HCTC at the current level that covers 72.5% of health insurance premiums, which was reached after bipartisan negotiations in 2011 and will expire on January 1, 2014.

When Delphi’s defined benefit pension plan was terminated, Delphi workers lost an estimated 30 to 70 percent in benefits.  The Auto Policy Task Force subsequently decided to “top-up” the pension benefits of certain retirees, not the 20,000 salaried retirees, including 5,000 salaried retirees in Ohio.  Of the 5,000 Delphi salaried retirees and their families in Ohio, about 1,500 are in the Mahoning Valley, 2,000 are in the Dayton area, and a majority of the remaining 1,500 are in Columbus and Sandusky.

Portman’s Recent Actions to Support Delphi Salaried Retirees

In November 2013, Portman submitted a question for the record to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius regarding the impact of the failed healthcare exchange rollout on Delphi Salaried Retirees.

In September 2013, Portman joined a bipartisan group of 19 members of the Ohio delegation asking the President to review the ongoing situation involving the receipt of reduced pension benefits by salaried retirees of Delphi Corporation.

In June 2013, Portman sent a letter to the Honorable Jack Lew, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, requesting an update on the Treasury Department’s review of why more than 20,000 Delphi salaried families – including  thousands of Ohio families - unfairly lost their pensions during the General Motors (GM) bankruptcy while other workers at the same company received their full pensions and benefits package.

In May 2013, Portman joined Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH-10) in sending a bicameral, bipartisan letter to the Chairmen of the Senate and House Oversight Committees urging them to continue their Committees’ examinations of matters pertaining to the unjust termination of Delphi salaried retiree pensions.  This push resulted in a special Congressional hearing in Dayton to explore these issues.

In March 2013, Portman and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) called on the Obama Administration to meet with Delphi salaried retirees and to pursue efforts that would restore the retirees’ pensions and benefits.  In a letter to U.S. Department of Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, the senators urged Lew to review the proposal submitted by the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association last summer and to pursue other solutions to ensure retirees’ receive the benefits they have earned that were lost through the bankruptcy of General Motors. This resulted in a meeting with senior Treasury Dept. officials and impacted Ohio Delphi retirees.
 
In February 2013, Portman submitted questions for the Congressional Record for the Senate Finance Committee hearing considering the nomination of Jacob Lew to serve as Treasury Secretary regarding the treatment of retired Delphi salaried workers during the General Motors bankruptcy.