FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009
HARRISBURG, PA – Officials from the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry were in Washington, D.C. this week meeting with members of Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation about job creators’ concerns with and ideas for health-care reform.
The health-care reform fly-in was organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and was attended by business leaders from several states, including Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, North Dakota, Ohio, Nebraska, Maine, Florida, Minnesota, Delaware and Florida.
PA Chamber Vice President Gene Barr said the central message being delivered to lawmakers is that improvements to health care can and must be made without stifling the innovations that have made the U.S. health-care system the finest in the world. That means taking steps to reduce health-care costs, improve quality and increase access without jeopardizing private sector coverage.
"Reducing the cost of health care is essential to successful reform," Barr said. "If we first begin to bend the cost curve to ensure that health care is affordable to employers and individuals and families, we can then begin to effectively address access concerns."
Barr said rising health-care costs are making it difficult for employers – small businesses in particular – to provide coverage for employees.
"The result is choosing between raising employee contributions, reducing benefits, eliminating coverage altogether or absorbing these added costs, often to the detriment of hiring and business investment," he said.
According to the PA Chamber’s 19th Annual Economic Survey, 93 percent of businesses cited health-care costs as a deterrent to business growth and job creation, with 73 percent of that amount calling it a major deterrent.
Barr said business supports a number of reform measures, including allowing for small business insurance pooling; utilizing consumer-driven options such as health-care savings accounts; reforming existing government programs (Medicaid and Medicare) to eliminate fraud and waste; rewarding health-care providers for outcomes and consumers for wellness and prevention; eliminating coverage mandates that drive up costs; and modernizing the civil justice system.
Business opposes a costly government-run health plan, the so-called public option, as well as "play or pay" mandates.
"Job creators know that access to care is vital to the health of employees and local communities," Barr said. "Business also recognizes that the health-care system needs to be improved. But reform must come in a way that does not increase costs and further exacerbate the problem of access to quality care."
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state’s largest broad-based business association, representing nearly 50 percent of the private workforce. The PA Chamber’s membership comprises businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice