Pilots Mobilizing for Tomorrow

Airline pilots are highly trained to remain vigilant every day for any opportunity to mitigate threats in the cockpit. Currently, a different kind of threat is looming on the horizon—a threat that, if we do not take action to correct it now, will inflict real damage on not just pilots but all working Americans. That hazard is the upcoming health-care excise tax—more commonly referred to as the “Cadillac tax”—and we must take action now to avert it.

While this component of the Affordable Care Act is not scheduled to be implemented until 2018, several ALPA-represented pilot groups are already dealing with its effects first-hand. Simply put, this tax is targeted at health-care plans that are valued above a set monetary level—$10,200 for single coverage and $27,500 for families. Employer-sponsored plans that are valued above this prescribed amount will be subject to a 40 percent tax on the excess. Despite the implication that this tax will only affect expensive plans that provide overly generous benefits, reports show that many employer-sponsored plans will trigger the tax because of geographic and other considerations that contribute to the high cost, rather than overly generous benefits. 

ALPA works diligently in negotiations with airline management to ensure that the health-care plans bargained for our members provide the greatest range of coverage at the lowest possible cost. While the upcoming tax has the potential to affect all U.S. ALPA pilots, the anticipated imposition of the tax is already affecting several ALPA pilot groups that are currently negotiating contracts. 

Because no regulatory guidance currently exists to govern how the tax will be imposed, many questions still remain unanswered. This uncertainty brings the very real possibility that employers may seek to reduce health-care benefits (e.g., through increased copays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximums) in order to lower plan costs below the thresholds and avoid the tax. This week, ALPA sent a letter to Capitol Hill urging Senate offices to co-sponsor legislation that would repeal this unsustainable burden on American workers. 

Just as training has instilled in pilots the ability to use all available tools and resources to ensure that our passengers and cargo arrive at their destinations safe and sound, ALPA members are mobilizing around this issue and calling for the repeal of the excise tax. We have the opportunity to be part of a solution today through ALPA’s call to action, and hundreds have already reached out to their elected representatives. 

This excise tax threatens to unfairly put additional financial burden on hardworking Americans. ALPA pilots have worked tirelessly to secure reasonable and affordable health-care coverage for ourselves and our families. We will not wait until others come up with a plan. We will be part of the solution and continue to engage our elected officials on this matter. Please join us in this fight today by showing your support for two bills that will repeal this onerous tax—H.R. 2050 and H.R. 879!

Categories: Advocacy