Turner: Delphi retirees bill has a shot

Legislation to help Delphi salaried retirees buy health insurance has a foothold in the House and a shot at passage, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said Monday.

The House Ways and Means Committee introduced last week a bill reinstating and extending the Health Care Tax Credit for Delphi salaried retirees, Turner said.

Turner, a Dayton Republican, and a Youngstown Democratic congressman, Tim Ryan, introduced the provision in February. Also that month, Ohio senators Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, and Rob Portman, a Republican, re-introduced their own legislation extending the credit.

Votes by Ways and Means and the House as a whole still await. But because the provision is an integral part of a bill to extend the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, Turner is confident it will pass.

The credit originally expired in 2013. An effort last year to extend the credit failed, a victim of amendment slicing. That’s less likely to happen this time, Turner believes.

“This is probably a more accurate vehicle for this bill, because it’s actually reflects trade economic impact,” he said.

When Delphi left a four-year bankruptcy stint in October 2009, it emerged largely as a foreign producer of auto parts, with 21 of its 29 U.S. plants closed.

Th newly introduced credit has a retroactive provision, covering health expenses in 2014, and in addition goes on for five years, Turner said.

The measure provides a 72.5 percent credit to eligible workers, helping them pay for qualified health insurance. The credit is often used for retirees who are too young for Medicare.

In 2009, Delphi retirees lost pensions and benefits when a then-bankrupt Delphi turned pension obligations over to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.

Only salaried retirees have been left without at least a partial restoration of their pensions. Some lost up to 70 percent of their pensions.

“Without the credit, some retirees have spent up to half of their remaining pension to cover their health care,” Turner said.

Salaried retirees have been suing since 2009 in federal court for their full pensions.

Delphi has some 6,000 salaried retirees in Ohio and about 20,000 in the nation. There are some 2,000 salaried Delphi retirees in the Dayton area, members of a retirees organization have estimated.

Delphi salaried retiree Tom Rose, of Washington Twp. is as optimistic as Turner. Restoration of the credit would be “unbelievably helpful,” he said.

“I think it’s good news that it’s part of the primary bill and not an addendum or an add-on, and therefore can’t be cut out of it,” Rose said.

He added: “I think the pension reductions were not only needless and illegal but borderline immoral.”

Fellow Delphi retiree Tom Green, a Springboro resident, agrees there is reason for optimism, but cautions that the Senate must pass the provision as well. He said retiree volunteers are contacting all members of Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committee.

“There are still some pieces that have to come together in the Senate,” Green said.

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