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Health Care

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 8:00pm

» Visit our Health Care Toolkit for the latest information and tools on proposals being considered now.

Health reform is critical to the business community — businesses voluntarily pay over $500 billion every year for employees' health insurance, and cannot afford the cost increases. We support reforming the health system with a simple three-pronged approach:

1) Get costs under control. Use an all-of-the-above strategy.

  • Medical liability reform
  • FDA pathway for biosimilars
  • Health information technology
  • Comparative effectiveness research
  • Wellness and prevention
  • Coordination of care and medical homes
  • Pay-for-Performance reform
  • Combating fraud and abuse
  • Living wills and end-of-life issues
  • Reinsurance
  • Consumer-driven health options
  • Small business pooling
  • Administrative simplification
  • Long-term care reform
  • Tax parity: Let individuals/small business deduct the full cost of insurance expenses

Without spending a trillion dollars or raising taxes, we could implement these and many other reforms that would help us start to bend the cost curve.

2) Reform the insurance system.

  • Eliminating the use of pre-existing conditions or health status
  • Guaranteeing that any individual or entity will be issued a policy
  • Guaranteeing that policies will not be revoked
  • Place reasonable limits on rating differences
  • Subsidies for those who cannot afford coverage
  • An individual obligation to obtain coverage

For negligible costs to the taxpayers, we could make the insurance system work. Insurance companies support it. An individual obligation is necessary to the equation, and would raise billions for the government that could be spent toward subsidies for the poor. New rating rules would make the system fair for small business and the selfemployed.

3) Create a vibrant market place.

  • Create a national all-inclusive connector/exchange that removes fragmentation
  • Should allow individuals and businesses from anywhere in the country to enroll
  • Should facilitate improved pooling mechanisms, choice, and competition

These three simple steps, at low cost to taxpayers, could make the insurance system work for everyone (thereby increasing access for the uninsured), improve our health care delivery system, and make serious progress toward controlling costs. They have support from a vast array of stakeholders. We don't need a $1-2 trillion dollar possible government takeover of health care — we need simple, pragmatic reforms.

Learn More

Retiree Health Reinsurance Fund
If your company is looking to apply for the $5 billion early retiree health reinsurance fund, you may want to read the draft application that the Office of Management and Budget has posted. The newly-established Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight has also posted some frequently asked questions regarding this program as well.

Chamber Sends Letter to the House opposing H.R. 3590, the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act"
On March 12th, the Chamber sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives strongly opposing the Senate-passed version of the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." The Chamber named several areas within the bill that are fundamentally flawed and urged Congress to start over and create a new, bipartisan health reform bill. For more information, click here.

Business Coalition Sends Letter to House and Senate Democrat Leaders Opposing the Merge of the House and Senate Passed Health Care Bills
On January 19th, 2010, the Chamber and a coalition of 675 other organizations sent a letter to House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid urging them not to merge the two passed health care bills, H.R. 3962 and H.R. 3590. To view the letter, click here.

President Signs COBRA Subsidy Extension into Law
On December 19th, President Obama signed the 2010 appropriations bill for the Department of Defense, which included an extension to the subsidy for COBRA. The act extends the eligibility period for a COBRA premium reduction for an additional 2 months and expands the maximum period for receiving the subsidy from 9 months to 15 months. For more information, click here.

Chamber Sends Letter to the US Senate urging Senators to reject H.R. 3590
On December 18, 2009, the Chamber sent a letter to all Members of the United States Senate opposing H.R. 3590, the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. While the Chamber is dedicated to health care reform, this bill will make health care more expensive, create onerous new burdens for businesses, hamper economic recovery, and implement a vast array of unwarranted new taxes. To view the letter, click here.

The Case for Wellness Programs: From Evidence to Practice
On December 3rd, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Partnership for Prevention released a new guidebook - Healthy Workforce 2010 and Beyond - to help employers plan, implement, and evaluate workplace health promotion programs that lower health costs and boost productivity. The book provides both private and public sector employers with information about the benefits of investing in worksite health promotion. It outlines current approaches and tactics that are supported by research findings or "promising practices" that are successful as part of wellness programs. A copy of the publication can be found here.

Business Coalition Sends Letter to House Lawmakers Opposing the Affordable Health Care for America Act
On October 29th, the Chamber and a coalition of nine business groups sent a letter to the House of Representatives opposing their latest health bill, the Affordable Health Care for American Act. The letter stated that the legislation would adversely affect current employer-sponsored coverage of Americans and fell short of being a bi-partisan solution to health care reform. To view the letter, click here.

Chamber Issues Press Release Expressing Disappointment over House Health Care Legislature On October 29th, the Chamber issued a press release regarding their displeasure with the health care legislation to come out of the House. To view the release, click here.

Chamber Releases Primer on Current Health Care Reform Legislation in the House and how it Affects Employers and Employees
On September 25th, the Chamber released a tool-kit focusing on the effects of the House health care legislation on employers and employees. To view the tool-kit, click here.

Chamber Comments on Upcoming Senate Finance Committee Mark-up of the "America's Healthy Future Act"
On September 23, 2009, the Chamber sent a letter to Chairman Baucus and Ranking Member Grassley of the Senate Finance Committee expressing that the Chamber looks forward to helping strengthen the "America's Healthy Future Act." However, the bill has several areas that could stand to be improved. To view the letter, click here.

Chamber Releases Health Care Regulation Comparison Chart
On September 17th, the Chamber released a comparative chart contrasting the enormous differences between the current regulation of health care in the U.S. and what it would look like under the "America's Healthy Future Act." To view the chart, click here.

Chamber Comments on House Proposal for Health Care Reform and the Need for Bipartisan Legislation to the Senate Finance Committee
On July 27, 2009, the Chamber sent a letter to Chairman Baucus and Ranking Member Grassley of the Senate Finance Committee expressing that while the Chamber is dedicated to health care reform, the Chamber opposes the current proposal from the House and requests a bipartisan solution from the Senate Finance Committee. To view the letter, click here.

Chamber Releases Health Care Regulation Comparison Chart
On July 16th, the Chamber released a comparative chart highlighting the vast differences between the current regulation of health care in the United States and what it would look like under the House health care reform bill. To view the chart, click here.

Employee Benefits 2010: The Next Decade of Benefits Practices and Designs
On July 10th, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce held a conference highlighting new trends in health and welfare plans, retirement plans and other benefit options. Attendees heard from innovators who have developed new ways of providing, delivering, comparing, and purchasing benefits for employers of all sizes. At the event, the Chamber released the "Employee Benefits Strategic Vision," which provides a proactive agenda for the Chamber that bridges the political and policy issues facing the employee benefits community. A copy of the document can be found here.

Chamber Testifies Before the House Committee on Ways and Means on Health Care Reform
On June 24, 2009, Randy Johnson, Senior Vice President of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits, testified before the House Committee on Ways and Means on the legislative options for health care reform in response to the House Tri-Committee health reform draft proposal. To view his testimony, click here.

Small Business Owner Paul Speranza Testifies Before the House Education and Labor Committee on Health ReformOn June 23, 2009, Paul Speranza testified before the House Education and Labor Committee where he discussed employer initiatives under ERISA plans such as wellness programs and health information technology development. To view his testimony, click here.

Chamber Comments on Upcoming Senate HELP Committee Mark-up of the "Affordable Health Choices Act"
On June 16, 2009, the Chamber sent a letter to Chairman Kennedy and Ranking Member Enzi of the Senate HELP Committee expressing that while the Chamber is dedicated to health care reform, the Chamber will oppose the "Affordable Health Choices Act" in its current form. To view the letter, click here.

Chamber Testifies Before the Senate HELP Committee on Health Care Reform
On June 11, 2009, Randy Johnson, Senior Vice President of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits Policy, testified before the Senate HELP Committee on the legislative options for health care reform, urging the committee to act with caution when creating proposals that could harm U.S. businesses. To view his testimony, click here.

Small Business Owner James Wordsworth Testifies Before the House Small Business Committee on Health Reform
James Wordsworth testified before the House Small Business Committee where he praised efforts to bend the cost curve and insure those Americans who need help, and criticized efforts to impose an employer mandate, to designate a gold-plated minimum coverage level, and to create a government-run insurance plan. To view his testimony, click here.

Chamber Comments on Senate Finance Committee's Proposed Health Reform Options
In three separate letters, the Chamber commented on proposed health system savings and revenue options, how to expand health care coverage to all Americans, and how to transform the health care delivery system. To view the May 26, 2009, letter on financing health care reform options, click here. To view the May 22, 2009, letter on expanding health care coverage options, click here. To view the May 18, 2009, letter on transforming the health care delivery system, click here.

Health Care Coverage Testimony Delivered by R. Bruce Josten to the Senate Finance Committee
R. Bruce Josten testified before the Senate Finance Committee on May 5, 2009, where he urged the Committee to use caution when addressing issues sensitive to business including a connector proposal, entitlement programs, and ensuring the security and sustainability of access to affordable health care. To read his testimony, click here.

IRS Releases Large FAQ on stimulus COBRA Subsidy
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released a large volume of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the new premium subsidy for employees who elected COBRA coverage. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ("stimulus") instructs employers to reduce premiums charged to qualified individuals who were involuntarily terminated, and employers can recoup these costs via payroll tax reductions. To view the FAQ, click here.

"Put It In Writing Your life on your terms"
The Chamber has endorsed the American Hospital Association's "Put it in Writing" campaign, which encourages all Americans to discuss end of life options with loved ones and sign an advance medical directive. The Chamber will encourage local chambers and businesses to support the effort through web links, articles, and other information. The website, http://www.putitinwriting.org/, has a host of information and resources to help people in all 50 states prepare an advance directive and provides advice for communicating wishes to family and close friends. Have you signed an advance directive and shared that information with your family? If so, great…if not, we would encourage you to do so now.

"Partnership for Prevention - Shaping Policies, Improving Lives"
AHA and the Chamber have signed on in support of the Partnership for Prevention's "Leading by Example" initiative and will be encouraging our members to participate in this proven program to lower costs and improve the health of their workforce. The initiative is designed to leverage the workplace to improve health by promoting greater business involvement in health promotion and disease prevention. At the core of the initiative are enlightened CEOs who play a pivotal role in advancing worksite health promotion both through their influence on corporate culture and visible support for such programs. These CEOs "lead by example" in that they make health promotion and disease prevention a part of their business strategy to achieve success through optimum employee performance and management of health care costs. Profiles of successful "Leading by Example" initiatives are described at http://www.prevent.org/.

"Patient Friendly Billing Project"
The Chamber has also joined the Healthcare Administrative Simplification Coalition. In addition to AHA, the Coalition represents a broad range of stakeholders, including physicians, health plans and employers. The objective is straightforward: Identify strategies that reduce the costs of administrative complexity in our healthcare system. Initiatives already underway include a "Patient-Friendly Billing" effort that is designed to help health care leaders create a friendlier, patient-focused healthcare billing and collections process. The program is led by the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) in partnership with the American Hospital Association, other associations, leading healthcare providers, and professional service and technology firms. The project and its sponsors are providing leadership to the health care field on this issue through the dissemination of a series of seminal reports and critical resources, such as case studies, tools, and educational events. More information can be found at: http://www.patientfriendlybilling.org/.

"Hospital Compare"
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has joined the Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA), a public-private collaboration to improve the quality of care provided by the nation's hospitals by measuring and publicly reporting on that care. Through the "Hospital Compare" website, participating hospitals voluntarily report quality information based on the measures defined and set by HQA. In an effort to make useful hospital quality of care information available to consumers, the Chamber continues to work with the Hospital Quality Alliance to expand the types of quality measures and information available. This quality information not only helps individual consumers make informed decisions when choosing a hospital, but also encourages health care providers to continue to improve the quality of the care they provide. Please visit http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov/.

Letter to Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Enzi regarding the "Affordable Health Choices Act." — June 16, 2009

Testimony delivered by Randel K. Johnson on Health Care Reform Legislative Options to the Senate Committe on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions — June 11, 2009

Testimony delivered by James Wordsworth to the House Committee on Small Business. "Common Ground: Finding Consensus on Health Reform, the Small Business Perspective." — June 6, 2009

Letter to Rep. Larson and Rep. Camp thanking them for the introduction of H.R. 2526, the "Medical FSA Improvement Act of 2009." — June 5, 2009

Letter to Sen. Baucus and Sen. Grassley providing comments on the document "Financing Comprehensive Health Reform: Proposed Health System Savings and Revenue Options." — May 26, 2009

Letter to Sen. Baucus and Sen. Grassley providing comments on the document "Expanding Health Care Coverage: Proposals to Provide Affordable Coverage to All Americans." — May 22, 2009

Letter to Sen. Baucus and Sen. Grassley providing comments on the document "Transforming the Health Care Delivery System: Proposals to Improve Patient Care and Reduce Health Care Costs." — May 18, 2009

Health care coverage testimony delivered by R. Bruce Josten to the Senate Finance Committee. — May 5, 2009