… who are forced to take measures to counter the effects of ObamaCare:
AT&T Inc. said Friday it will take a $1 billion noncash charge to account for changes brought about by the national health care bill signed into law this week.
Previously, companies could get tax-free subsidies to help pay for prescription drug coverage for retired workers and, on top of that, could deduct those subsidies from their total tax bill.
Under the new law, the original subsidies will still be tax-free, but the companies no longer will be allowed to deduct the subsidy from their total taxes.
“As a result of this legislation, including the additional tax burden, AT&T will be evaluating prospective changes to the active and retiree health care benefits offered by the company,” AT&T said in a brief filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company declined to comment beyond the filing.
AT&T reports first-quarter financial results April 21 and will likely face questions from analysts about the charge.
AT&T is the latest in a string of companies to announce charges resulting from the new law, but its charge is by far the biggest. 3M Co., Deere & Co., Caterpillar Inc. and AK Steel Holding Corp. have recently announced charges ranging from $31 million to $150 million.
The company announcements Friday prompted Democrats in Congress to push back.
Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat who co-chairs a subcommittee on oversight and investigations, said he’ll convene a hearing next month to question company executives about their moves.
“The new law is designed to expand coverage and bring down costs, so your assertions are a matter of concern,” said a letter from Waxman and co-chair Bart Stupak inviting executives such as AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson to testify.
“They also appear to conflict with independent analyses. … The Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers from leading U.S. companies, asserted in November 2009 that health care reform could reduce predicted health insurance cost trends for businesses by more than $3,000 per employee over the next 10 years,” the letter said.
The hearing is scheduled for April 21.
This is what we’ve come to in the land of the free.
A government imposes a policy, corporations take actions to lessen the impact of those policies on their bottom line, and the government calls them to hearings conducted by the very people responsible for the imposition.
This is America under Obama.
Do you have enough hope and change yet?
Crossposted at Brutally Honest.