Unions have ramped up the pressure on Democrats in Congress to jettison the idea of taxing some health plans as a way to pay for the trillions it is expected to cost to insure the estimated 50 million Americans who lack health care.
Although I'm fortunate to have health insurance, some long-unemployed members of my extended family do not, so I've been following the issue closely. Mike Sullivan, president of the Sheet Metal Workers union, used his column in the union's most recent magazine to remind President Barack Obama of his promise not to tax middle-class workers, as well as to rebut claims that people with so-called Cadillac health insurance don't know the true costs of their benefits.
A new tax on the most generous health plans, which are often enjoyed by union members, has been suggested by some Democrats and Republicans as the best way to quickly raise billions.
The president has set an aggressive timetable, wanting to sign a bill by October. That means both chambers need to start moving bills out of committees soon -- a prospect that seems to grow more unlikely by the day, as Democrats fight amongst themselves on tax options and coverage mandates, and most Republicans oppose anything that they say could damage the nation's established private insurance industry.
Meanwhile, the high cost of insurance continues to affect businesses of all sizes. I'll be curious to see if a billl does pass this year, and if it offers the solution and savings many companies are longing for.