Las Vegas Sun

June 29, 2017

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Shelley Berkley, Dina Titus soften health bill objections

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Dina Titus

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Shelley Berkley

Sun Coverage

WASHINGTON -- Nevada’s Democratic congresswomen signaled they are increasingly willing to accept President Barack Obama’s latest health care proposal despite their earlier opposition to an excise tax on high-priced plans.

Reps. Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus have steadfastly opposed the tax on the so-called Cadillac plans that would have snared union workers, possibly including maids and cooks on the Las Vegas Strip.

But Titus said the president’s decision to postpone the tax until 2018 was “certainly an improvement over the Senate bill.”

Berkley said Thursday she, too, remains opposed to the Cadillac tax, but “nothing’s off the table.”

“I’m trying to be as bipartisan and solution-oriented as possible,” Berkley said. “If we get 90 percent of what I want – this 100 percent or nothing is what puts our government in a gridlock. I’m not going down that path.”

The proposed 40 percent excise tax on high-end plans is believed to be one way to rein in skyrocketing health care costs. Experts believe the tax would dissuade companies from offering expensive plans.

Unions, however, greatly oppose the tax, saying they had forgone pay raises in favor of better health care plans.

The White House and key labor unions reached an agreement in January to raise the threshold and extend the start date to 2018 for those in unions, a deal that was criticized for giving labor households special treatment.

Obama’s plan unveiled earlier this week softens the tax further by raising the threshold once again and extending the start date to all groups.

Under the Obama proposal, the excise tax would be on high-end plans in excess of $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. It also would extend the 2018 start date for all policy holders, not just those in unions.

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