Golden-backed Provision to Preserve Affordable Health Care Coverage for Madawaska Retirees Signed into Law
WASHINGTON — A one-year extension of the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) is now law following successful efforts by Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) to include the legislation in the most recent government funding bill. Dozens of retirees from the Twin Rivers Paper mill in Madawaska have used the tax credit to access affordable health care, and over 200 current workers at Twin Rivers could become eligible when they retire. The HCTC was set to expire at the end of 2019, leaving dozens of former workers at the mill without access to affordable health care.
The Health Coverage Tax Credit program provides refundable tax credits to cover over 70% of the cost of health insurance premiums for two kinds of workers: those who have been certified to have lost their jobs due to outsourcing, and eligible retirees whose pensions have been taken over by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation as a result of the financial instability of a previous employer.
“When I was up in Madawaska last year, I sat down with workers at Twin Rivers Paper. They told me loud and clear: we need to save the Health Coverage Tax Credit,” said Golden. “People here have done decades of hard work in this mill, but they often can’t retire because health care is simply too expensive. I worked to preserve the Health Coverage Tax Credit because I know how important affordable health care is for these Mainers and for thousands of other Americans who have lost their jobs to our trade policies or had their retirements threatened by employer bankruptcies. The tax credit was due to expire at the end of last year, but I’m proud to have helped make sure an extension of the Health Coverage Tax Credit was signed into law.”
Madawaska’s USW Local 1247, which represents many of the workers at the mill, brought the issue to Congressman Golden’s attention in a meeting in February.
“The United Steelworkers at Twin Rivers Paper are most appreciative of Congressman Golden’s work to get the extension of the Health Coverage Tax Credit signed into law. The HCTC makes health care affordable for many of our members who retire before becoming eligible for Medicare. This program has made a difference for many of our members, providing a financial bridge to be able to retain the same level of health insurance at a time when age makes one more vulnerable to health issues. Absent the HCTC, members who wanted to retire early delayed their retirement, purchased only catastrophic coverage plans, or went without insurance.” - Dan Bechard, USW Local 1247
Golden worked with House leadership and Republican Congressman Mike Turner (OH-10) to ensure the HCTC was extended in the omnibus spending bill that the House passed in December. The president later signed the bill into law with the HCTC extension. Golden is also the lead Democrat on H.R. 1939, the Health Coverage Tax Credit Reauthorization Act, which would reauthorize the tax credit for five years. The bill’s sponsor is Congressman Turner.