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Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

Health Care Legislation Passed by House Will Force Job Losses

In Uncategorized on March 22, 2010 at 10:24 pm

The Senate-passed healthcare legislation will unquestionably burden Americans with countless mandates, new taxes, penalties and higher insurance premiums. Small businesses will be hindered by stringent regulations and taxes that will ultimately force them to slash jobs. This bill comes at a time when unemployment stands as the most important problem facing the country today.

The House on Sunday night voted 219-212 to send H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – the health care bill passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve – to President Obama for his signature. Later, the House voted 220-211 to approve H.R. 4872, the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010, a package of amendments to the Senate bill. That measure now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to be considered this week.

The Senate bill imposes a penalty of $750 per full-time worker on companies with 50 or more employees that do not provide coverage to full-time workers. But the House reconciliation bill would increase that penalty to $2,000, with the first 30 workers exempted. If an employer offers coverage but the coverage is deemed unaffordable to a full-time employee, that employee can opt out to a new purchasing exchange. The company would then be assessed $3,000 for each of those employees up to a cap of $2,000 for every full-time worker on the payroll. This mandate becomes applicable in 2014.

The National Retail Federation expressed extreme disappointment at the House’s passage of sweeping health care reform legislation over the weekend, saying added labor costs under the bill will cost many retail workers their jobs.

“This is a historic moment, but not a cause for celebration. Congress has embarked on a dangerous, anti-job experiment in the midst of the worst economy our nation has seen in decades,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations Steve Pfister said. “How many lost jobs will it take before Congress reverses course?”

“Our nation simply cannot afford more job losses during this economy, and many businesses already struggling to keep their doors open may not be able to withstand this added financial burden,” Pfister said. “Retailers have told Congress all along that we value our employees and want to expand upon the millions of workers and their families for whom we already provide coverage, but that to do that we need reform that would lower costs. Instead, we’ve been handed employer mandates that do just the opposite while doing little or nothing about the cost of medical care, which in turn drives higher coverage costs.”

“We are particularly concerned about mid-sized companies that are large enough for the mandates to apply but too small to have the ability to absorb these added costs,” Pfister said. “They could be among the hardest hit. And small businesses that drive so much of the job creation in our country are going to be forced to hold their size under 50 workers to avoid the employer mandate threshold.”

Under the bill, seniors will see their Medicare benefits significantly reduced, resulting in limited choices and higher costs. While Medicare will be cut, Medicaid will be expanded, despite the fact that the program is going broke and states are struggling to keep up with the expiring federal matching program. Imposing an unfunded mandate will only exacerbate Medicaid’s problems.

“If health care is not funded properly through Medicare then the end result will be greater rationing of our health care system and fewer, more costly options for Medicare recipients”, said Peter Shanley, CEO of The Small Business Council of America (SBCA), a national nonpartisan, nonprofit organization which represents the interests of privately-held and family-owned businesses on federal tax, health care and employee benefit matters.  “The quality and availability of health care will go down and Medicare patients will be hurt in the long run.”

The new health law also empowers federal officials to dictate how doctors treat privately insured patients (Senate bill, pp. 148-149).  Never before in history, except on narrow issues such as drug safety, has this been done. The bill will require nearly all Americans to be in a “qualified plan,” then says that plans can pay only doctors who implement whatever regulations the Secretary of Health and Human Services imposes to improve “quality.”  That covers everything in medicine — whether your cardiologist uses a stent or does bypass surgery, whether your ob/gyn settles for a pap smear or orders a pelvic sonogram.  It could also cover reproductive issues.

There are many problems with the nation’s current healthcare system that can be rectified through medical liability reform, pooling health insurance, offering tax incentives, allowing states to customize programs, and reforming insurance regulations. Forcing a government takeover of healthcare, especially through parliamentary gimmicks, will not solve America’s healthcare problems – it will only exacerbate them.

Health Care Reform Efforts Must Improve Nation’s Financial Outlook

In Uncategorized on July 6, 2009 at 6:16 pm

As Health Care becomes the latest hot topic with the President and Congress, The Concord Coalition’s Series – a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to balanced federal budgets & responsible fiscal policy – released the sixth installment of its series on Health Care and Medicare, entitled: Looking Beyond the Administration’s 10-Year Reserve Fund: Cost Control Must Do More Than Pay For Expanded Health Insurance Coverage

The new publication stresses that policymakers must emphasize controlling costs over the long-term rather than simply paying for an expansion of coverage.

While paying for any reform effort represents an important first step in avoiding further deterioration of the fiscal outlook, that action alone will not do the heavy lifting required to remedy the unsustainable track that health care spending is already on. Rather, tough choices concerning the underlying structural problems will be required.

The brief states:

Little will happen to contain the nation’s health care costs that doesn’t address the ill-managed proliferation of new technology and the propensities of the fee-for-service insurance structure to promote more services. More importantly, little substantive will happen until there is an acceptance all around — by the public, providers, insurers, and others in the health care industry — that sacrifice must be shared…Until the message is given and understood that all must yield something, it is hard to see how the parties will coalesce.”

What reform requires most of all, for the nation as a whole, is cost containment. Paying for expanded or universal health care requires more than balancing new expenditures with new revenues or other savings, whatever possible resources are identified and earmarked. It’s a commendable track relative to past efforts to expand health care benefits, which pushed much of the payment onto future generations. But it still avoids the larger question of how to manage the nation’s spiraling health care spending so that the whole system doesn’t implode some day. Policymakers cannot afford to lose track of that larger question even as they battle it out over the best way to pay for health care reform in the next 10 years.

According to market research firm IBISWorld, around 162 million people – 61% of the population under 65 years of age – receive health insurance coverage as part of employee benefit plans.

Only 1% Of Stimulus Money Helping 95% Of American Firms

In economy, Uncategorized on June 25, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Quick fact: the U.S. Census Bureau states that 98% of all U.S. firms have less than 100 employees, and approximately 25 million firms fall into that category. These firms employ over 55% of the private sector workforce and are responsible for over 95% of all new jobs created in America.

The American Small Business League (ASBL) has found of the $2.7 trillion that has been allocated so far to stimulate the national economy, only $21 billion, or less than 1% of the funds have directly gone to small businesses.

The remainder of the funds that were allocated to businesses wound up in the hands of the top 1% of U.S. firms. President Obama has promised to create up to 4.1 million jobs. Census data indicates the top 1% of U.S. firms have not created one net new job since 1977.

That aside, Los Angeles based industry research firm IBISWorld found that commercial bankruptcies nearly doubled in March of this year since last year’s figures.

“We can expect the current upward trend in business bankruptcy filings over the first half of the year to continue this year,” said George Van Horn, senior analyst at IBISWorld.

There is evidence to suggest the economic stimulus plan is actually harming small businesses. The Wall Street bailout bills were touted as being essential to increasing access to capital for small businesses. Some of the firms that received billions in federal tax dollars are actually cutting access to capital for small businesses. A story in BusinessWeek reported that JPMorgan Chase, one of the largest recipients of the bailout funds, reduced the flow of credit lines for small businesses.

Section 107 of the original Wall Street bailout bill gave the Treasury Secretary the power to waive any provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) he chooses. Paragraph 9 (b) of the bill specifically mentions the waiver of “any provision of the Federal Acquisition Regulations pertaining to minority contracting” and the waiver of provisions pertaining to “woman-owned businesses.”

The Obama Administration is supporting a new bill in Congress that could dismantle existing federal economic stimulus programs for small businesses by changing the federal definition of a small business. The new definition will allow many of the nations wealthiest venture capitalists to take billions of dollars in federal contracts previously earmarked for small businesses.

In February of 2008 President Obama stated, “It is time to end the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants.” To date, the President has refused to adopt any policy to honor that campaign promise. A series of federal investigations discovered that billions of dollars in federal small business contracts are being diverted to Fortune 1000 firms.

‘Cash for clunkers’ proposal hurting the U.S. Auto Industry

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2009 at 11:56 pm

Hyundai Motor America has released survey data showing that as of May 29 at least 38 percent of potential new car buyers in the U.S. are aware of a pending fleet modernization ‘cash for clunkers’ program, and 11 percent of car buyers are delaying their purchases until this legislation is passed or defeated.

This represents as many as 100,000 lost industry sales each month due to uncertainty around this program.

“With sales in the U.S. auto industry forecast at the lowest levels in 26 years, it’s imperative that we move forward with this stimulus bill,” said Hyundai Motor America President John Krafcik.

“The auto industry makes up 10 percent of the consumer portion of the country’s gross domestic product. Any stimulus to the auto industry will make a major improvement in the overall U.S. economy, which remains severely depressed,” said Krafcik.

“The longer this bill, which is so important to the U.S. economy, remains stuck in Congress, the greater the pressures placed on all aspects of the U.S. automotive industry – from suppliers to manufacturers to dealers. We urge Congress to move quickly so that American consumers can benefit from this program during the peak summer selling season,” said Krafcik.

Nearly half of all vehicles sold by Hyundai Motor America are manufactured in the United States at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing in Montgomery, AL. In total, Hyundai directly employs more than 5,000 people in the U.S., with facilities in 14 states across the country. Including its almost 790 dealers and suppliers, Hyundai has created more than 35,000 jobs in the United States.

The ‘cash for clunkers’ program aims to stimulate demand for American cars by providing federal vouchers–up to $4,500–for people who trade their old, inefficient car for something ‘greener’ with better mileage. The cars must be American-made, however foreign brand cars may qualify if they’ve been manufacturerd on U.S. soil.

According to industry research firm IBISWorld, revenue in the New Car Dealers industry will have decreased by an annualized real rate of 6.6%, falling from $758.3 billion in 2004 to the expected $540.1 billion by 2009.