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Some families would see tax increase under Senate version of health care reform

A number of Wisconsin families would get an immediate tax increase under the Senate Finance Committee's version of health care reform.

It would start taxing health plans which cost $21,000 a year for family coverage, and $8,000 for singles beginning in 2013.

The House Democratic package unveiled last week does not contain the proposed tax.

But it could still be included once the two versions are combined.

The current national average premiums are well below the taxing threshold.

But David Newby of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO says there are middle-class people in the state with excellent health plans, and they'll be hit right away.

Experts say southeast Wisconsin could be hit the hardest, because their health care costs are the highest in the state.

Merton Finkler, a professor at Lawrence in Appleton, says many economists consider the health care tax break to be "stupid policy."

That's because they their consider health benefits to be part of an employee's compensation, no different than wages.

But University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor Mordecai Lee says the hardest thing for a politician to do is to take something away from people.