NAM President John Engler discussed health care legislation with The Star-Tribune yesterday in an interview conducted before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s release of a Senate version, the 2,074-page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (text). So the following comments are a general take on congressional action on health care. From “High noon in Washington“:
Q Your association has been critical of the health care reform bill that passed the U.S. House. Where do you think Congress should go from here? If Congress cannot produce reform that reduces costs and preserves what’s working in the current system, would you rather see no changes to our existing health care system?
A Manufacturers long have been interested in health care reform because we thought it was an opportunity to reduce costs.
The health care system we’ve had has been constantly changing. We now have some wonderful success stories backed up with four and five years of data where companies have been able to keep their health care costs pretty flat.
They’ve done this by being very creative. Normally they are self-insured. They really stress an array of preventive services. They are managing chronic disease when that happens and they are doing a lot of things very, very well.
We started off with two objectives: Let’s preserve the gains that have been hard won, and let’s see what we can do to reduce costs.
Of course we are interested in doing what can be done to help people who don’t have insurance get covered and to help people who can’t get insurance because of pre-existing conditions.
There ought to be a way to do this. What’s emerged from these debates in Washington is unrecognizable as reform. Now it’s coming across as one of the largest tax increases we’ve ever faced.
In end, it might be preferable to do nothing than do something wrong that burdens the nation with debt, Engler concluded.
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