Widespread reports of a possible compromise among U.S. Senate Democrats on the Senate’s version of health care reform legislation have emerged, but details are sketchy and still troubling to many in the business community. The potential compromise reportedly scraps the controversial public option and replaces it with a system in which Americans aged 55 and older would be permitted to buy into the federal Medicare program.

But details on what the compromise actually does are elusive. Because the bill’s costs are being studied by the Congressional Budget Office, all the specifics on the legislation won’t be publicly released until the pricing is completed.
Until then, many questions and concerns from the business community remain over the proposal’s cost and content.

As more is revealed about the possible compromise language, there are at least three reasons why the current Senate version is off to a bad start:

  • The current Senate bill imposes $28 billion in new taxes on employers that do not provide government-approved health benefits. This will not relieve employers of the staggering premium increases with which they have been burdened in recent years; in fact, it will increase that burden for many.
  • The Senate is under pressure to include a public plan option to “compete” with private health plans. There can be no level playing field with a public option, even if it is at first scaled back. Ultimately, public plans will eliminate consumer choice in health care, forcing millions of Americans to lose the coverage they now have and leading to the demise of private health insurance plans and the inevitability of a government-run, rationed health care system.
  • To pay its fully implemented $2.5 trillion price tag, the bill includes half a trillion dollars in new taxes on payrolls, health benefits, health insurance, prescription drugs and medical devices that will be passed through to employer-provided plans.

Government has a very poor track record in administering and paying for health care. Cost-shifting caused by the government’s severe underfunding of Medicare and Medicaid has made private health insurance unaffordable for many people and businesses.

We need reform that will truly reduce costs, improve quality and increase access to health care—not legislation to expand government and endanger our economy.