The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee returned from the July 4 congressional recess to begin its third week of debate on the Affordable Health Choices Act.
This week, senators considered additional amendments to the bill. Deliberations have taken longer than expected due to several “hot button” issues such as the establishment of a government-run health plan and the creation of federal “gateways” to help individuals find health coverage.
Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Acting Chair Chris Dodd (D-CT) during Committee meeting
SHRM has communicated many of the HR profession’s concerns on this proposal. To view SHRM’s letter to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, click HERE.
In addition, SHRM continues to follow the work of another Senate committee with jurisdiction over portions of health care reform - the Senate Finance Committee - as it struggles to complete its comprehensive health reform package. As we go to press, the Finance Committee has yet to release a formal legislative proposal.
One issue that seems to be losing some support among members of Congress is changes to the employee tax exclusion. Originally, lawmakers saw the idea of taxing health care benefits as one of the few ways to produce the hundreds of billions of dollars needed to pay for health care reform. However, both unions and business groups generally oppose this proposal, and a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that 70 percent of Americans oppose a new tax on health benefits. As a result, while not “off the table” entirely, there seems to be declining interest in altering the employee tax exclusion.
Stay tuned to future editions of the HR Issues Update for news on health reform developments. Also, if you want to learn more about how health reform might impact you and your organization, sign up for SHRM’s health care reform webcast (details below) today.