By: Jessica Wehrman
The Columbus Dispatch - December 09, 2014 04:07 PM
Ohio’s two senators are trying to extend a health coverage tax credit that many Delphi retirees are calling a lifeline in the aftermath of having their pensions cut by up to 70 percent.
Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, plan to attach an amendment to a tax package later this week that would extend the health coverage tax credit through Jan. 1, 2016. The tax extenders bill will be voted on before the Senate goes into recess at the end of this week.
The tax credit, originally passed in 2002 but later extended to include those 55 or older whose pensions were taken over by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, expired at the end of 2013. It was considered of particular use to Delphi salaried retirees whose pensions were cut during the 2008-09 auto bailout. The tax extender package that passed the House last week did not include an extension of the Health Coverage Tax Credit.
“Thousands of Delphi salaried retirees and their families depend on the Health Coverage Tax Credit and we should be taking every step possible to help these hard-working families regain financial security,” Portman said.
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., supporting the amendment.
“Having helped thousands of individuals across the country pay for their health insurance premiums, the HCTC is incredibly important to those whose hard-earned pensions and benefits have been terminated,” Turner wrote, saying that thousands of Delphi salaried retirees used the tax credit after their pensions were cut.
More than 20,000 Delphi salaried retirees lost up to 70 percent of their pensions in the aftermath of the federal government's $50 billion bailout of General Motors. Of that 20,000, about 5,000 live in Ohio, according to Brown's office. Before it expired, the tax credit gave a 72.5 percent break to eligible workers and was often used by retirees too young to be eligible for Medicare.