Mid-Michigan Now: Bill introduced to make healthcare more affordable for Delphi salaried retirees

WASHINGTON— Congressman Dan Kildee introduced Wednesday the Bob von Schwedler Permanent Health Coverage Tax Credit Expansion Act, a new legislation to help Michigan workers and retirees—including Delphi Salaried Retirees and those hurt by bad trade deals—cover the cost of health care.

“Every Michigander deserves access to quality, affordable health care. That includes Delphi Salaried Retirees who were left hanging through no fault of their own and hardworking Michiganders who have lost jobs due to bad trade deals,” said Congressman Kildee. “I’m proud to introduce my bill to restore this critical program and make it permanent, to lower health care costs for thousands of Michigan workers and retirees.”

Congressman Kildee’s bill would permanently extend the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC). The HCTC helps Americans cover their health insurance costs if they are retired and their pensions have been taken over by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, or if their job was outsourced abroad and they qualify for Trade Adjustment Assistance.

Thousands of Delphi Salaried Retirees qualify for this credit, along with Michigan workers who have lost their jobs due to bad trade deals.

The new legislation would increase the credit to cover 80% of health insurance costs for workers and retirees who claim the credit.

The bill is cosponsored by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Elissa Slotkin (MI-07), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Gwen Moore (MI-04) and Terri Sewell (AL-07).

Until it expired in December 2021, many Delphi Salaried Retirees and their families relied on the HCTC to help pay for their health insurance. Without it, the health and financial stability of many Delphi Salaried Retirees and workers is in danger. These hardworking retirees have already suffered significant losses to their benefits and financial security because of General Motors’ 2009 bankruptcy, with devastating impacts on many of their lives.

Congressman Kildee’s legislation is named after Bob von Schwedler. Bob worked as a salaried manager at Delphi for almost 36 years before his pension plan was terminated due to the GM bankruptcy, just one year into retirement. Bob was then diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable bone marrow cancer. Bob’s treatment came with many hospital visits and bills, with some costing as much as $500,000. Bob is now in remission and attributes his recovery, in part, to the HCTC.

“After receiving my Delphi pension for less than a year, my pension plan was terminated and taken over by the PBGC. At the same time, my ‘lifetime’ health care benefit was terminated. This was a doubly shocking financial event that caused both my wife and I to wonder how we were going to survive,” said Bob von Schwedler, former Delphi Worker. “What helped us greatly was the Health Coverage Tax Credit. In 2016, when I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, the HCTC covered the entire cost of my treatment. You cannot believe what a relief it was to know that I did not find myself in a severe financial situation in order to fight a non-curable cancer.”