Hi everyone -
The Chamber was one of many organizations to sign the letter below on health care, and we wanted to share it with you. What are your thoughts?
July 28, 2009
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS:
The undersigned chambers of commerce, associations, and businesses, representing millions of
employers who create jobs and provide quality, affordable health insurance to tens of millions of
Americans, wish to urge caution in addressing one of the most difficult problems facing our
nation today – reforming the health care system.
Collectively, we are dedicated to improving our nation’s health care system, especially in terms
of lowering health care costs, improving the quality of care, and making sure every American
has access to affordable coverage. However, we believe that the legislation currently being
considered would not improve the system, but jeopardize the parts of the system that currently
work. In fact, these bills do nothing to “bend the cost curve” rather according to Doug
Elmendorf, director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the “curve is raised.”
The creation of a new government-run insurance plan is a step in the wrong direction.
Employers currently suffer a significant cost-shift from existing public programs, and the
program described in House legislation would significantly increase costs for every American
who purchases private insurance. We do not believe that the government plan will be a fair
competitor. Because of the increased costs and lack of competition caused by a government
plan, employers will not be able to continue offering their current plans, which cover more than
170 million Americans.
We are further concerned with a proposal to mandate that employers either provide health
insurance or pay huge fines or payroll taxes. This “pay or play” mandate is especially bad
because employers are also required to pay the majority of employee premiums. Even with some
exemptions, this provision will kill many jobs. Market forces and employer autonomy should
determine what benefits employers provide, rather than Congress.
The business community is eager to work with Congress to reform the health care system.
Businesses, as providers of healthcare benefits, continue to see health care costs rise far in excess
of GDP growth or inflation. Innovative businesses have valuable outcomes to share with
legislators about approaches they have developed to help drive quality and control costs. We
urge Congress to focus on consensus areas that can accomplish our shared goals. Chief among
these should be initiatives to improve quality and lower costs, introducing fair regulation of the
insurance market, and building a robust marketplace for consumers.
We believe that responsible and constructive health reform that we all can support can be
enacted this year. We call on Congress to enact reforms that improve the health system without
jeopardizing those who currently have coverage.