Maintaining the ERISA Framework
NAM has not taken a position yet on the Senate Finance Committee's
overall bill. However, one provision that NAM does support is the
protection of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
framework, which gives manufacturers the ability to continue to offer
quality benefits so that employees can keep their existing plans.
provides a comprehensive federal scheme for the regulation of
private-sector employee benefit plans. According to the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce, while ERISA does not require an employer to offer employee
benefits, it does mandate compliance with its provisions if such
benefits are offered.
Besides the regulation of pension plans,
ERISA also regulates welfare benefit plans offered by an employer to
provide medical, surgical, and other health benefits. ERISA applies to
health benefit coverage offered through health insurance or other
arrangements (e.g., self-funded plans).
In his testimony for the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Speranza noted, "The reason so many employers
are able to offer quality, affordable health insurance to their tens of
millions of employees is because.ERISA allows them to administer
uniform benefits across state lines, with maximum flexibility to allow
employers to design plans that meet their employees' needs."
Manufacturers' Wish List
The NAM and other business groups support healthcare reform legislation that would do the following:
Maximize pooling to allow individual and small group purchasers to gain
the benefits of distributed risk and the purchasing power of large
group providers in an expanded market.
• Increase access to
transparent, meaningful health information in a consistent manner to
allow individuals and groups to compare healthcare plans and providers
on the basis of cost, quality of performance, and overall patient
• Provide affordable, diverse options to help
uninsured individuals and small businesses to access and purchase
affordable care through a market that offers a variety of competing
private health-plan options that fit the diverse needs of individuals.
Contain a "do-no-harm" policy that protects employer-provided health
benefits and opposes costly mandates, and allows the millions of
Americans who receive health insurance from employers to continue to do
• Establish legal liability reform that sets clear standards
for liability and punitive damages in medical malpractice suits based
on actual malice, intentional infliction of harm, or a knowing and
reckless disregard for safety.
• Promote wellness and prevention programs through incentives to create a healthier work force.
• Implement health information technology to reduce waste and improve system efficiency.
Wrapping It Up
healthcare reform debate is likely to continue into 2010. While many
business groups believe that the Senate Finance Committee's bill is the
best one introduced so far, there is still much work to be done.
U.S. Chamber recommends that the Senate Finance Committee focus on
three areas: controlling the costs of healthcare and insurance,
reforming the way insurance companies do business, and creating a
vibrant, transparent marketplace in which people can shop for
insurance. These steps could be taken in a bipartisan way that is far
more affordable, that would achieve the goals that the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce and the business community share with the President, and that
could be understood and supported by the public.