That is why the Senate bill also includes the 40% excise tax on companies that offer high-end insurance plans -- those that cost $8,500 in annual premiums for individuals and $23,000 for families. Proponents argue that would not just raise revenues but also curb costs by discouraging companies from offering expensive plans.
It is not clear how many people will be affected by that tax, but critics warned it would not hit just luxury plans, but also those for middle-class workers whose premium costs are high because they live in high-cost states.
A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund projected that the average premium for family coverage in 2015 would be nearly $20,000 in high-cost states. To address those concerns, the Senate bill sets the threshold $3,000 above that for certain states and for plans that cover workers in high-risk professions.
Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said that was a step in the right direction, but that labor would seek to kill the provision. "We continue to believe that a tax on working families' benefits is the wrong way to finance healthcare," he said.