2008 REPUBLICAN PARTY PLATFORM PROPOSAL
NRLN Retiree Health Care Reform Agenda
The Republican Party has long believed that a strong America is best accomplished when employers and employees work together to meet the challenges of a changing global economy with minimum intervention by the Government. Historically, businesses rewarded employees with promises of pension and health care benefits continuing through their employment years and during their retirement years. The changing dynamics of the world economy is causing the business community to re-evaluate these time-honored benefits and are seeking ways to halt the rising costs associated with these promises. The Republican Party believes that the private sector is better suited than government to meet these challenges.
We believe that, given proper incentives, employer and employees can work together to provide a health care system second to none in the world. Past legislation has helped to create inequities in providing these benefits by divisive laws that have pitted union represented workers against non-union workers; active employees against retirees and private sector employees against public sector workers. Congress has abdicated its oversight responsibility to the point where Federal Courts and appointed agencies are issuing rulings that often circumvent the original intent of legislative actions and thus cause further division between business and its employees and retirees.
The 2008 Republican Party is committed to working on legislation that will encourage private enterprises to continue to provide affordable health care coverage for all segments of America’s work forces and its retirees. Where it is prudent, the Republican Party will advocate providing U.S. Government incentives for corporations to honor the promises made to retirees to provide health care benefits during retirement.
For those not covered by corporate health care plans, we will work to make available affordable coverage so that all Americans can receive quality medical care. We are committed to assuring that prescribed medical treatment is at the discretion of medical professionals, not by insurers.
Preserving Our Retirees’ Earned Benefits-Present and Future
The strength of America has been the people who spent their days working and striving for a better life for their families. The expectation has been that years of employment would result in the realization that hard earned pension, health care and other benefits, regardless of private or public sector, represented or non-represented, would continue through retirement years. To ensure that all who worked for their pension and benefits will receive them, the Republican Party and Congress must provide the framework in which employers who promised retirement pensions and benefits must fulfill those commitments.
The Republican Party concurs that the Pension Reform Act of 2006 requires more funding information and full disclosure of Defined Pension Plans. The use of ‘surplus’ funds in these plans must be used for the original purpose of those plans-to the benefit of retirees, not used for corporate restructuring expenses. Also, employees must be protected from unfair treatment when their previously earned defined pension plan benefits are converted to cash balance plans. The Republican Party pledges to strengthen Congressional control to promote both defined benefit and defined contribution pension plans, and to increase the portability of retirement benefits.
Promoting Affordable, Accessible Healthcare
Republicans recognize that economic security of every American family relies heavily on a health care system that is accessible to all. The current world economy has placed American businesses at a substantial disadvantage compared to their competitors from foreign countries that either fund or subsidize health care for their employees. The rapid rise in cost for providing health care coverage has had profound effects on our employees and retirees. We are committed to work with those businesses that provide health care coverage to their employees and retirees, both private and public sector, represented and non-represented, to continue to provide the high quality, accessible coverage. We will do this by assuring corporate America fulfills its promises to its employees and retirees, and in a way that enhances their competitive position in the global market place.
The Republican Party believes in a comprehensive approach to assist American businesses to continue to provide health care programs by providing proper incentives to those that continue their original health care plans. We support the five principals of healthcare reform as described by the National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC): 1) Healthcare coverage for all; 2) Improved cost management to eliminate waste; 3) Improvement of Healthcare Quality and Safety; 4) Equitable financing; and 5) Simplified Administration that established electronic record keeping networks and minimizes redundancies. For those employees and retirees that may be forced out of existing health care coverage by their employer, we support a retiree health care Maintenance-of-Cost Payment (MCP) equal to the cost of an individual’s earned health care benefits at the time of retirement or at a subsequent time, whichever is highest, when reduction or cancellation of coverage may occur.
Republicans pledge to provide all Americans access to health care coverage equal to such coverage that Congress provides itself and all Federal workers.
Medicare is a successful program that assures all eligible Americans health care and prescription drugs. We support legislation that will assist employers who continue providing prescription drug benefits exceeding Medicare approved levels of coverage. We support equitable funding for doctors, hospitals and other health care providers, especially in rural areas where reimbursement levels are far below larger urban areas. Republicans will support legislation that would assure that medical professionals rather than insurers will decide proper levels of care and treatment. For those under 65 years old, we support a program that will allow uninsured retirees to buy into to Medicare.
Health Insurance Tax Relief
Republicans support refundable tax credits to assist millions of Americans who do not have employer-provided health care insurance. For those facing catastrophic medical expenses, we support tax-exempt withdrawals from qualified IRA and 401 k accounts.
In 1993, Congress, implemented taxation of Social Security benefits aimed at upper income taxpayers. The level of taxable benefits was not indexed to inflationary changes resulting in injustices to millions of retirees other than the legislation intended. Republicans are committed to legislation that amends the current tax codes to eliminate or reduce this unintended consequences, and harm, to lower income retirees.
Robert Foresta, NRLN Vice President - Legislative Affairs
May 30, 2008