The leader of the National Association of Health Underwriters is urging members of Congress to keep health reform efforts from undermining existing group health plans.

Janet Trautwein, a former health insurance broker and longtime chief executive of NAHU, Arlington, Va., said NAHU members are strong proponents of employers offering health coverage.

But “a mandate to force employers to provide health insurance to their employees, while well-intentioned, could actually hurt American workers,” Trautwein argued today in testimony delivered at a health insurance hearing organized by the House Education and Labor Committee’s Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee.

Employers would have to cut jobs to cope with increasing labor costs, and a mandate could reduce whatever existing pressure exists to hold down health care costs and health insurance rates, Trautwein testified, according to a written version of her testimony posted on the committee Web site.

In addition, if the proposals permit workers to opt out of group plans and buy individual or government-provided coverage, that could lead to the government crowding out private coverage, increase employers’ administrative costs, and reduce employers’ ability to meet plan participation requirements, Trautwein said.

Links to copies of Trautwein’s written testimony and other hearing documents are available here.