Tag: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Manufacturers Key Vote in Support of H.R. 2, Repealing the Health Care Law

The National Association of Manufacturers on Tuesday sent a “Key Vote” letter to House members urging support of H.R. 2, the bill to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. From the letter:

The vast majority of American manufacturers, including 97 percent of NAM member companies, voluntarily offer health benefits not only to attract a skilled workforce, but because they believe it is the right thing to do for their employees. Our members support proposals that reduce soaring health costs, improve the efficiency of the current system and enhance the quality of care.

Conversely, manufacturers oppose proposals that make it more expensive or more difficult for employers to offer health benefits. Legislation enacted in 2010 – specifically the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act – will drive up manufacturers’ health care costs and force many companies to consider abandoning the generous benefits they currently offer.

We remain adamantly opposed to the new laws’ employer mandates, industry-specific fees, Medicare hospital insurance tax increases, reporting requirements, excise taxes and limits on Flexible Spending Accounts – all of which will place more burdens on America’s job creators. Our nation can and must do much better at finding a health care solution, and the 2010 legislation should be repealed.

Determined by a committee presenting NAM members of all sizes, Key Votes are used to rate a member of Congress’ record on manufacturing-related issues.

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Health Care: The Constitution Says Eat Your Vegetables

Writing at National Review’s The Corner blog, Yuval Levin dissects the op-ed response from Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to the federal judge striking down the individual mandate in the federal health care law. Like us, Levin can find no legal or constitutional argument in their Washington Post column, “Health reform will survive its legal fight,” just a weak case made on policy grounds.

Levin writes:

Their argument, in essence, is that the government has the right to do anything it wants to in the health-care arena because all human beings get sick, and their getting sick can have economic consequences. The choice of some not to purchase insurance means that when they get sick they might incur some costs that would have to be shouldered by others. “For decades,” Holder and Sebelius write, “Supreme Court decisions have made clear that the Constitution allows Congress to adopt rules to deal with such harmful economic effects.” And the way the new health-care law would “deal with” such harmful effects is to make it illegal to make the choice not to purchase insurance. Simple.
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If You’ve Lost ‘Mutts’…

Thursday’s Halloween-themed comic strip.

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Feeling Queasy? Fading Fast? It’s Health Care’s New Tax Mandates

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the new health care law, is sickening small business with its requirement that companies file IRS 1099 forms to report every purchase 0f $600 or more. Yes, that’s a lot of reporting, a lot of paperwork.

Reuters has a good report on the ins and outs of this stomach-churning provision, “1099 tax rule may bring big pain to small business“:

Who will it affect?
It will affect all businesses, including sole proprietors, consultants, self-employed people and freelancers, who are considered businesses for tax purposes, but may not think of themselves that way. It also will apply to charities and other tax-exempt organizations. The National Taxpayer Advocate, based on Internal Revenue Service data, figures that it will affect 26 million sole proprietorships, 4 million S corporations, 2 million C corporations, 3 million partnerships, 2 million farms, 1 million charities and other tax-exempt organizations, and likely more than 100,000 federal, state and local government entities. All told, that’s more than 38 million taxpayers and taxpaying entities.

The story notes the NAM’s concerns, especially as the law will create all sort of disparate record-keeping and reporting requirements — an exemption for credit card purchases, but not cash?

“It’s a headache, there are increased costs, and I think there is also significant concern about how they will implement it,” says Dena Battle, director of tax policy at the National Association of Manufacturers, one of the business groups that has pushed for repeal. “Any time you have these ‘tax gap’ provisions, there are gigantic unintended consequences.”

Earlier Shopfloor posts:

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Notice How ‘Patient’ Has Been Dropped from Health Care Law’s Title?

John Engler, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, on Thursday spoke at the Integrated Care Summit in Washington, a conference sponsored by the Care Continuum Alliance.

The Alliance recently changed its name from the Disease Management Association of America, a fact that Engler played off on as he introduced the afternoon plenary session. From his (edited) remarks:

I observe there’s another high profile name change that’s actually been under way since President Obama signed the health care bill back in March. The law, the official name is “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, maybe you have, but it has not escaped our attention that the Administration rarely now refers to the law by its full title.

At the White House website and actually in the materials from Health and Human Services, the law is called just, “The Affordable Care Act.” Some of us are a little concerned, and the jury’s still out on that: Will it be more affordable or less affordable? I think the work that we’re doing needs to be fought for and defended, because that’s how we do make it more affordable.

We certainly don’t think that we can drop the emphasis on “patient” from the policy discussion, because that prospective patient in the manufacturing world is our employee, and you want to be very focused with that employee. That prospective patient – hopefully they don’t become patient – you want them to be the priority, front and center.

At the same time, I can say for our manufacturers there is the suspicion – and I think through the provider community – that if we simply stand aside and say, well, somehow government or agencies of the government, they’re going to be the leaders in innovation or implementing integrated care, we’re bound for disappointment.

You’ve got to have the innovation, the ideas, the experience, the wisdom, if you will, from public and private employers and the health care experts who have worked with them – people who have actually put programs to work, actually run something on the ground, interacted with people on a daily basis.

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Like Your Health Care Plan? You Can’t Keep It

During the consideration of health reform, we were assured repeatedly by President Obama and proponents of the behemoth euphemistically called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that if we liked our health insurance we could keep it.  Many opponents of the bill, including the National Association of Manufacturers, never bought that talking point and now we know for a fact the promise will not be kept.

Ostensibly, the intent of health reform was to insure the uninsured and protect the coverage of those who get health insurance from their employer.  Instead, what we got is a looming crisis for as many as 170 million Americans who could lose their coverage because their employer can’t afford to provide it anymore or inadvertently runs afoul of the government.  Now that’s reform.

The “grandfather rule” issued by the Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) in June essentially read like a cynical attempt to make good on a promise never intended to be kept.  (HHS news release, fact sheet, rule.) In a technical sense, if your plan doesn’t change at all from what it looked like on March 23, 2010, you can keep it – but how realistic is that?  Not very, and they know it.

In fact, the HHS itself acknowledges that up to 70 percent of all employers will either lose their health plan by violating the new federal regulations or forgo grandfather status on their own within the first three years.

Under the rules for so-called “grandfathered plans,” small businesses that purchase health insurance for their employees have been stripped of the single most important tool they have to keep their rates in line – the ability to shop around and negotiate with multiple health insurance companies to get the best coverage they can afford.  If an employer switches insurance companies now, they lose their grandfather status.

If employers decide to stick it out with their current plan, other tools to keep costs in check have been taken away as well.  Increase co-payments beyond limits set in the regulation?  Lose your grandfathering.  Increase employee cost-sharing for premiums beyond what the government tells you?  Lose your grandfathering.  And the HHS isn’t done yet.

HHS has asked for comments on whether a plan should lose its grandfather status if it changes their prescription drug coverage or the network of physicians and hospitals beneficiaries can see.  These are common alterations insurers and employers look to for cost control so their employees can afford the coverage.  The NAM will be submitting comments to the HHS today on these and other issues raised by the rule. [UPDATE: Here are the NAM's comments.]

Unless significant changes are made, it seems clear what the end goal is with the so-called “grandfather rule” – design it to effectively ensure that within three years all current employer-based plans will go the way of the Dodo.

 Joe Trauger is the NAM’s Vice President for Human Resources Policy.

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Health Care: It’s a Big Law, So Reasonable Leeway, Please

The National Association of Manufacturers has joined a dozen other business associations in asking Administration agencies to apply reasonable standards as they establish rules and compliance requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

On April 30, the group sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis making the request.

As Neil Trautwein of the National Retail Federation told Bloomberg: ““We’ve got a lot of existing and new costs to manage and face a lot of uncertainty over whether the health-care law will actually lower health-care costs. It’s not really a good idea to swamp the business community when we’re still struggling to get off the mat from the last recession.”

From the letter:

We recognize that the appropriate federal agencies are working diligently to quickly issue rules on many of the reforms in advance of their effective dates. However, given the September effective dates for the near-term requirements (e.g., no lifetime or annual limits, bans on cost-sharing for preventive services, dependent coverage changes, etc.) employers and health plans will be making coverage and policy decisions either in the absence of final regulations or with little time between the issuance of rules and the effective date of the new law. These changes include policy and contract revisions, IT system upgrades, modifications to employee benefit and marketing materials and development of employee and customer communications, just to name a few.

Given the amount of changes required, the uncertainty regarding the content of many pending rules, and the short time frame, we respectfully request that the applicable federal agencies provide affected entities with a good faith compliance standard as proposed in the attached document entitled, “Transition Period and Good Faith Compliance Standard under the PPACA Regulations.” We feel this standard, similar to those issued in the past, will provide the compliance environment to allow us to move forward in a spirit of partnership while we implement the numerous provisions of the law.

The full attachment is available here.

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‘Key Vote’ Letter: Manufacturers Oppose Health Care Bill

Today the National Association of Manufacturers sent a “Key Vote” letter to U.S. House members expressing strong opposition to the health care legislation the House is expected to act on soon. (.pdf letter)

“Key votes” are determined by a committee of representatives of member companies. A member of Congress’ votes on these issues are used to determine the member’s record on manufacturing-related issues.

Here’s is the text of the letter, signed by NAM Executive Vice President Jay Timmons:

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the nation’s largest industrial trade association representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states, urges you to oppose the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related budget reconciliation legislation pending before the House.

The vast majority of American manufacturers, including 97 percent of NAM member companies, voluntarily offer health benefits not only to attract a skilled workforce, but because we believe it is the right thing to do for our employees. Our members support proposals that reduce soaring health costs, improve the efficiency of the current system and enhance the quality of care. Conversely, we oppose proposals that make it more expensive or more difficult for employers to offer health benefits.

We regret that neither the House-passed Affordable Health Care for America Act nor the Senate-passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes important policies that would lower manufacturers’ health care costs – particularly in the areas of legal liability reform, enhancing competition by allowing employers to purchase insurance across state lines, and robust delivery reform. (continue reading…)

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