SEMA has formed a health care advisory group to help formulate the association’s position on the issues confronting the Congress as it debates various reform proposals. Among these issues are employer mandates (pay or play), requiring individuals to purchase coverage, and establishing a government-run plan to compete with private insurance. SEMA will continue to advocate for a provision allowing small businesses to band together across state lines and purchase health insurance (commonly referred to as “small business health plans”). The advisory group is comprised of nine SEMA-member companies that are familiar with the reform debate, have been actively involved in SEMA grassroots activities, and are a representative member sampling based on market niche and size.
Legislation introduced by the Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives has been approved by the Ways & Means and Education & Labor Committees and is now being debated by the Energy & Commerce Committee. In the Senate, the Health Committee approved a bill and the Finance Committee is negotiating its version of the same measure. The Senate will use the August recess to seek agreement on the major issues and the House may do the same. President Obama is attempting to guide the process and hold lawmakers to a strict time table (end of 2009). Nevertheless, he is allowing lawmakers to “write” the legislation so that they will take ownership of the process. This may also allow him to help lawmakers reach a compromise when the legislation inevitably reaches a “melt down” phase.
SEMA’s advocacy efforts are coordinated with the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the Small Business Coalition for Affordable Healthcare. For additional information, contact Stuart Gosswein.