You Cannot Dismiss Health Care Objections as a ‘Lot of Noise’

By March 9, 2010Health Care

The Washington Post’s Dan Eggen has a pretty good blog summary of a conference call conducted by members of Employers for a Healthy Economy, a business coalition to which the National Association of Manufacturers belongs. The group is running ads critical of President Obama’s health care plan, or, as the headine writer puts it, “Business groups plan TV assault on Obama health-care plan.”

It’s not “Force 10 from Navaronne,” you know. They’re just cable ads.

Eggen reports:

A coalition of major business groups said Tuesday that it will spend as much as $10 million on television ads over the next 10 days attacking President Obama’s health-care reform plans, arguing that legislation under debate in Congress will be too costly for small employers and will kill jobs at a time of economic distress.

He also quotes the NAM’s point person on the issue.

Jeri Kubicki, vice president of human resources policy at the NAM, said the legislation does not go far enough in controlling costs and will burdening small businesses with additional taxes and regulations. “Unfortunately, our members think the core of this debate has centered on expanding access as opposed to controlling costs,” Kubicki said. “We want to start over.”

That’s right.

Unfortunately, the White House’s communications director, Dan Pfeiffer, does not engage those points in a blog post he put this afternoon, “Putting American Workers and Small Businesses in Charge of Their Own Health Care Coverage.” His argument is that those who disagree with the legislation are bad actors in league with the greedy insurance industry.

[The] Chamber of Commerce, which we already know has also run anti-reform ads funded by the insurance industry, is holding a conference call today with executives from a handful of industries to lay out to discuss their plans to try to block reform.

Over the coming days, you’ll hear a lot of noise from opponents of reform who are desperately trying to protect a system that earns billions in profits while rates climb so high that many Americans can’t afford coverage.

The NAM doesn’t really care about the insurance industry. Our member companies have been hammered by rising health care costs, often double-digit increases in premiums every year, and believe the current health care bills being considered by Congress do too little to control costs.

Here is the statement issued by NAM President John Engler on Feb. 22 when the President released his latest version of the health care bill. It’s not noise, but rather a clear statement of why the legislation is flawed. The issues warrant a more serious response than a campaign-style attack. 

We are disappointed that the President’s proposal includes hundreds of billions in new taxes and fees but does nothing to contain costs for America’s manufacturers and job creators. Health care reform needs to be first and foremost about reducing costs, not adding burdensome new costs and taxes on employers. Manufacturers want the health care debate to move forward, but with a focus on long-term savings that will make health care more affordable for everyone.

The President’s proposal appears to largely embrace the Senate legislation which includes significant tax increases on America’s job creators. Manufacturers believe health care reform should focus instead on reducing costs, improving access and preserving what is working in the current system.

Ninety-seven percent of National Association of Manufacturers members voluntarily provide health care benefits to their employees and have expressed a desire to continue to do so. Unfortunately, the President’s proposal would raise costs and make it more difficult for employers to continue offering flexible, generous health benefits that meet the needs of their diverse workforces.

It’s time to start over with a bipartisan plan for true health care reform that lowers costs, improves care and does not hurt the economy and job creation.

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