The Senate is ignoring the interests of the current employer-based health care insurance system in its draft of reform legislation, officials of 2 trade groups are telling the Senate leadership.
Officials of the National Association of Health Underwriters and the American Benefits Council made their comments as the Senate prepared to vote on the health care measure before leaving for the Christmas recess.
“We are still working with a few senators who have not made a commitment, and until those commitments and votes are made, we are going to keep working,” Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Senate majority whip, said after Senate Democrats met with President Obama at the White House Tuesday.
“I think ultimately we will pass it before Christmas,” he said.
Late Tuesday, the Senate rejected 2 prescription drug amendments, both of which failed to reach a previously agreed-upon 60-vote threshold.
Passage of the first amendment would have derailed the bill because pharmaceutical companies, who are key supporters, would have abandoned support if the amendment had passed.
The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., would have allowed the reimportation of prescription drugs. It failed, although it received 51 votes for vs. 48 against.
Another amendment that would have allowed reimportation of prescription drugs under extremely high safety standards also failed, 56-43.
In general, “employers feel that their issues with respect to the employer mandates and taxes are being lost in the public option, abortion echo chamber,” said John Greene, vice president of congressional affairs for the National Association of Health Underwriters.
Jobs are at stake, he said.
“Unfortunately, if the bill passes in its present form, jobs will be lost or not offered, particularly in the lower income levels, and the overall effect will be to slow down the recovery as employers sort out what the impact of the final bill has on their plans to expand next year,” Greene said.