The Society for Human Resource Management sent out the following action alert on Friday.  They are against the Democratic plan for Health Care Reform – but provide an interesting side by side comparison of the Dems/Republicans approaches to tackle this challenge. Following is the alert:

Debate on comprehensive health care reform is at a crucial stage.  The House of Representatives will consider H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act as early as this weekend.  While SHRM strongly supports comprehensive health care reform that strengthens the employer-based system, promotes wellness programs and health promotion initiatives, strengthens the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), increases purchaser and consumer access to cost and quality information and increases access to affordable health coverage, the House bill fails to achieve these goals.

Please contact your Representative today to urge a NO VOTE on H.R. 3962.

Background

On October 29, the Democratic leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled their long-awaited fix for the nation’s health care delivery system.  The bill, titled the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962), includes many provisions of interest to HR professionals.

Click HERE to review a side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate bills.

Specific provisions of concern to HR professionals include:

Wellness Programs – Unfortunately, H.R. 3962 does not include provisions to facilitate greater availability of wellness programs among employers and employees.  In addition, the measure does not include meaningful cost, quality, or transparency provisions to ensure that both employers and employees have better access to health-related information.

Employer Mandate – The bill requires employers to provide and pay for “qualified” health care coverage or face an 8 percent payroll tax.  Employers must pay 72.5 percent of the premium for individuals and 65 percent of the premium for families.  In addition, even if an employer provides and pays for health insurance coverage for their workforce, that employer could still be subject to an 8 percent payroll tax if employees decline employer coverage because it is unaffordable – defined as more than 12 percent of the employee’s income.

ERISA – H.R. 3962 would erode the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by applying state law remedies to employer purchased coverage  in a health insurance exchange; prohibiting post-retirement reductions of retiree health benefits by group health plans, unless reductions are also made to active employees’ health benefits; and requiring employer-sponsored plans to meet detailed federal requirements that will increase costs.

Public Plan – The bill also includes a public insurance plan option that raises serious concerns about cost-shifting to private plans. Inadequate reimbursement practices under Medicare and Medicaid has resulted in significant cost-shifting to private plans, increasing costs for both employers and employees.

SHRM’s Position

SHRM is committed to achieving comprehensive health care reform that provides high quality, affordable health coverage to all Americans in a manner that strengthens the voluntary employer-based system.  HR professionals realize that the current system, which has health care costs rising faster than inflation, is unsustainable. That  is why SHRM has supported efforts to control costs.  To meet this goal, SHRM supports public policy that achieves the following:

  • Strengthens and improves the employer-based health care system;
  • Encourages greater use of health prevention, promotion, and wellness programs;
  • Strengthens the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to ensure a national, uniform framework for health care benefits;
  • Reduces health care costs by improving quality and transparency;
  • Ensures tax policy contributes to lower costs and greater access.