How to be pro-health care reform and against the Reid bill

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I’ve heard some criticism recently on our supposed “opposition to reform.”  Don’t you support health coverage for everyone?  Don’t you believe the Obama Administration’s claims that health reform will lower health insurance coverage costs while preserving everything you like today in health care?

We support universal health coverage for all (in fact we proposed our comprehensive reform plan – NRF’s Vision for Health Care Reform in January 2008) but don’t believe the White House claims (all gain/no pain).  These strike us as the political equivalent of “puffery.”  Quite simply, the Reid bill won’t deliver what it promises.

It probably wouldn’t be politics without puffery, but we need to focus on the reality of the need for reform as well as the effect of specific provisions.  Learn about a retail-centric side-by-side comparison of the Reid bill and the previously passed House bill, or read about our initial reaction to the Reid bill.

NRF devoted hundreds of hours to twice-weekly meetings last fall with every hostile or semi-friendly interest group around under the late Senator Kennedy’s auspices in the Senate HELP Committee.  We also bent over backwards to work with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus and anyone else who would listen to us on the Senate and House-side.  Our hands are clean when it comes to health care reform advocacy.

We are a pro-health reform organization and are proudly so.  We are no less proud of our opposition to bad health care reform proposals, such as the Reid proposal.  We stand ever ready to work with Congress to enact real health care reforms that neither bust the budget nor destroy businesses and jobs.  We don’t need that at any time, particularly not in the midst of a recession or marginally recovering economy.

I’m also struck by how many organizations and companies have come to believe that an employer mandate will certainly be a part of any final bill.  It won’t be too bad – they argue – so long as (fill in the blank: part-timers, small business, seasonal workers) are excluded.  But, will they stay excluded?  Do you still believe in Santa Claus?

We oppose any employer mandate in any form applied to any employer or class of worker. Employer mandates of any form are job and business killers, a toxic concern in a marginally recovering economy.  No amount of hypothetical reductions in the future growth in the cost of health premiums can justify imposition of an employer mandate in any form.  Employer mandates are fundamentally inconsistent with health care reform.

Do we have our heads stuck in the sand?  Not at all – our best defense against mandates is stiff opposition to any and all employer mandates.  More groups need to stand up and join us in pushing back against this false inevitability.  Come and join our efforts!

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