NRF urges Congress to reject calls to use fast-track rules to push flawed health care reform legislation

The National Retail Federation today urged Congress to reject calls to use fast-track budget reconciliation rules to push flawed health care reform legislation through the House and Senate.

“Health care represents one-sixth of the U.S. economy. Good health care policy should easily command an overwhelming majority in Congress and widespread support among the public.”

“We strongly oppose efforts to ram health care reform into law,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations Steve Pfister said. “Health care represents one-sixth of the U.S. economy. Good health care policy should easily command an overwhelming majority in Congress and widespread support among the public.”

NRF strongly opposed separate health care reform bills passed by the House and Senate late last year because both included controversial employer mandates and other provisions that would drive up costs for employers while not doing enough to make health care more affordable. With the current economy making it difficult for retailers to absorb new costs, NRF believes employer mandates and penalties would force many retailers to lay off workers.

“Mandated coverage requirements are hazardous to a job-starved economy and are especially dangerous for small employers,” Pfister said. “We remain adamantly opposed to legislation that will drive up unemployment through higher labor costs.”

Pfister said NRF would support health care reform legislation that reduces immediate and long-term costs for employers, individuals and government payers; reforms the health insurance market to ease access to coverage and mitigate rate increases; and provides help to small businesses and individuals to access coverage. Legislation should build on the existing employer-based system without including employer mandates, taxes on coverage or extensive benefit requirements that fail to provide flexibility for high-turnover industries like retail, he said. Legislation also needs to preserve ERISA, which allows national companies to provide uniform health insurance benefits across state lines.

Pfister’s comments came in a letter to leadership and members of the House.

Pfister said legislation outlined by President Obama over the past two weeks “fails to solve our concerns.”

Obama on Wednesday urged Congress to use “the same kind of up or down vote” that was previously used by Republicans to pass Bush Administration tax cuts and other measures opposed by Democrats. The so-called “reconciliation” process allows a limited bill addressing revenue and spending items to pass the Senate with a simple majority of 51 votes rather than the 60 normally needed to cut off a filibuster. Democrats control only 59 votes and all 41 Senate Republicans are expected to oppose the Obama bill.

Source:

 National Retail Federation

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