For a second consecutive week, the Senate Finance Committee continued consideration of its health care reform bill, “America’s Healthy Future Act.”
SHRM delivered a letter to Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) outlining the Society’s concerns with the bill. Additionally, as a strong supporter of employer-based health and wellness programs, SHRM also joined other employer groups in sending a second joint letter to Chairman Baucus in support of two wellness amendments pending before the Finance Committee.
Senators Baucus (left) and Grassley (right) during Committee action on health care reform
The Committee considered several contentious amendments this week. For example:
· The Committee rejected – by a vote of 15 to 8 – an amendment by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) that would have established a government-run public plan option similar to the public plan that was adopted in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee health care bill.
· After the Rockefeller amendment failed, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) offered a more moderate version of the public plan, but it also was voted down – by a vote of 13 to 10.
· The Committee spent much of the week debating how to pay for health care reform. Several financing ideas were discussed including an excise tax on high-value insurance plans, fees on health insurers, and other changes to tax policy.
As we go to print, the Finance Committee is expected to finish work on the “America’s Healthy Future Act” next week. However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has predicted that the health care reform bill will be debated by the full Senate during the week of Columbus Day, October 12 – 16.
New SHRM Tool Available NOW:
As Congress continues to debate how to overhaul the nation’s health care system, SHRM has developed a new tool to help you understand the various reform bills currently under consideration. This Health Care Reform Comparison Chart provides a side-by-side analysis of the various reform provisions of greatest interest to HR professionals. This chart will be updated regularly as health care reform legislation moves through the legislative process.
Stay tuned to future editions of HR Issues Update for health care reform developments.