Manufacturers consistently rank rising health care costs as a primary business challenge according to the National Association of Manufacturers Outlook Surveys conducted each quarter. The manufacturing industry has a history of leading the business community in providing health benefits to employees—98 percent of NAM members provide health insurance to employees and they do so because it is the right thing to do for their workforce and their families.
New health care mandates will continue to challenge the ability of employers to provide self-funded health care innovations that help control costs. Since manufacturers have a proud tradition of providing health care to employees, manufacturers are eager to explore ways to reduce health care costs and strengthen ERISA – the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. The economies of scale that have come to define employer-sponsored coverage, create a vehicle through ERISA to design benefits that are flexible, innovative and efficient. However, this approach only works if health care innovation is encouraged and permitted. Employers can no longer be strangled by additional regulations or the burdens of 50 different ways to comply which is why ERISA plans and their sponsors work hard to contain costs. Manufacturers want our employees to thrive, be healthy and share in our success as manufacturers.
Oklahoma is now considering a new mandate that will impact how and where pharmacy benefit coverage is provided, potentially requiring an open-ended pharmacy network and mandated reimbursement requirements outside the scope of many pharmacy benefit plans that Oklahoma employers will have to cover.
HB 2632 and S 841 represent a wrong-headed approach. The NAM agrees with the State Chamber of Oklahoma and urges legislators to fully understand the cost impacts of yet another health care mandate thrust on employers and their employees.