Friday Alert

July 12, 2019

National News: Friday Alert, July 12, 2019

Headlines:

  • Butch Lewis Act Can Save Multiemployer Pension Plans; 
  • Affordable Care Act Lawsuit Would Rob Americans of their Health Insurance;
  • New Business Plan Cuts Postal Workers’ Pensions, Lowers Benefits;
  • Acosta Out as Labor Secretary;
  • Hearing Aids are for More than Just Hearing

Butch Lewis Act Can Save Multiemployer Pension Plans

Economists predict that more than 100 pension plans will become insolvent within the next few years if Congress does not take dramatic action.

On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee held a markup hearing of the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, also known as the Butch Lewis Act, which would allow the Treasury Department to issue loans to save these multiemployer pension plans from insolvency. The committee passed the bill, H.R. 397, by a 25 to 17 party-line vote.

The legislation must next be taken up by the House Appropriations Committee before a vote by the full House of Representatives. The bill is estimated to protect 1.3 million pension plan participants for at least 30 years and save the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation $65 billion in potential liabilities.

“The Butch Lewis Act will protect the pensions that retirees have earned through a lifetime of hard work,” said Alliance President Robert Roach, Jr. “If nothing is done, these pension plan participants could see their benefits decrease by 50 to 75 percent. Congress has a duty to future and current retired Americans to pass the Butch Lewis Act and preserve their retirement security before we have a national disaster.”

The pension funds are important to both the workers and retirees in the plans. The pensions are a critical revenue source for communities across the country. The multiemployer pension system generated $14.7 billion in federal, state and local taxes, and added $50 billion in value to the GDP in 2016, according to a new study by the National Institute on Retirement Security.

Opponents are attempting to downplay the benefits of the Butch Lewis Act with claims that are either misleading or don’t tell the whole story. A recent column in The Hill explains the many flaws in their arguments.

Affordable Care Act Lawsuit Would Rob Americans of their Health Insurance

On Tuesday, the Fifth District Court of Appeals heard a case that would determine the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Two judges on the three-judge panel frequently interrupted attorneys to ask whether the ACA’s individual mandate is constitutional, and if not, whether the entire law could stand without it. An opinion is expected in about 10 months.

The case, Texas v. United States, was originally introduced by opponents of the ACA and has been in the federal court system for some time. In December, a Texas federal judge struck down the trademark health care law, claiming that the 2017 Republican tax bill effectively makes the law unconstitutional.

The ACA’s future appeared murky after two hours of oral arguments, but it is unclear whether the judges are ready to uphold a federal judge’s earlier decision invalidating the law. The case could move to the U.S. Supreme Court next year in the midst of the 2020 election season.

“The health and well-being of nearly every American is at risk,” said California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “Health care can mean the difference between life and death, financial stability and bankruptcy. Our families’ well-being should not be treated as a political football.”

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