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HR Issues Update - January 26, 2007

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President Bush’s State of the Union speech this week outlined his vision for reforming health care and immigration in 2007—two top concerns for HR professionals and employers and for the new Democratically controlled Congress.

Health Care:  The President’s plan would provide all American families receiving employer-provided health care with a $15,000 standard deduction for health care ($7,500 for individuals) but, in turn, would also consider the cost of employer-provided health care above the standard deduction as taxable income. Americans who purchase their own health care could also claim the full amount of the deduction regardless of the cost of their individual or family policy. The goal is to level the playing field for those who buy their own health insurance in the marketplace with those who receive or purchase health care through their employers.

In an upcoming issue of HR ISSUES UPDATE, we will provide a simple comparison of the most talked about health care plans, including those in California and Massachusetts.

Immigration:  The President called for comprehensive changes in immigration that include employment verification, a guest-worker program, stronger enforcement and a path to citizenship for some illegal aliens. Implying that the current employment verification system is not perfect, he said, “We will enforce our immigration laws at the work site and give employers the tools to verify the legal status of their workers—so there is no excuse left for violating the law.”

Following the President’s speech, SHRM President and CEO Sue Meisinger confirmed that belief, saying “Any comprehensive immigration reform must include an employment verification system that works. As HR professionals, we know the current system is both inefficient and inadequate at preventing fraud.”

For more information about these and other public policy issues, please visit

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