Business and Insurers’ Groups Back Health Reform, But Not All Legislation
A group of CEOs, the Business Roundtable and America's Health Insurance Plans, the insurance industry group, separately expressed qualified support for health overhaul efforts Thursday.
In a report, the Business Roundtable "which represents big company CEOs, said some of the changes being considered by Congress have the potential to reduce future health care cost increases, bringing medical inflation closer in line with overall economic growth. But the group also warned that other provisions in the bills could raise costs," the Associated Press reports. President Obama "greeted the analysis as welcome validation at a time when other business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) have soured on the Democrats' health care bills and are mobilizing the opposition" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 11/12).
If deployed in the right balance, reform measures could save companies up to $3,000 per employee by 2019, according to the report, which was commissioned by the Roundtable but crafted by Hewitt Associates, a consulting firm, CongressDaily reports. A roundtable official said cost-control is the top priority for big companies. Meanwhile, another business group, the Employment Policies Institute, launched a television ad arguing that the reform plans "will make this (debt) crisis worse" (Edney and Hunt, 11/12).
Smaller businesses, on the other hand, are concerned about being able to offer low-cost insurance to their employees in the first place, TIME reports. Though lawmakers have crafted proposals overtly targeted at small business, "business groups like the Chamber and the NFIB vehemently oppose the public option. The Chamber says it would pay below-cost reimbursement rates, leading doctors and hospitals to charge private insurers (and the employers who purchase coverage from them) more to make up the difference. But even if that were true - and there are many observers who say this fear is overblown - it's not clear that small-business owners would be the ones to suffer" (Pickert, 11/13).
In a briefing Thursday, AHIP chief Karen Ignagni told reporters her industry still supports a full-scale health overhaul this year, despite some qualms about the bills, the Boston Globe reports. "Ignagni echoed the [Business Roundtable's] assertion that cost-containment efforts should be spread more broadly across the entire health care system, not just confined to experimental projects within Medicare" (Wangsness, 11/13).