Businesses Brace for Health Bill’s Costs

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Published in The Wall Street Journal, December 23, 2009 by Neil King Jr 

Companies are alarmed at potentially costly provisions in the Senate health-care bill, many of which they hope will be scrapped during a final round of negotiations early next year.
A scramble to massage the hefty measure, instead of pushing to kill it, reflects the view of many in the business community that a sweeping remake of the U.S. health-care system now appears inevitable.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is among a few big business groups calling for Congress to scrap the overhaul effort.
Business is worried that President Barack Obama’s push to extend coverage to millions more Americans will raise the burden on employers. Business groups have widely criticized the 2,074-page Senate bill, which looks set for passage on Christmas Eve. They also have offered a variety of fixes.
The legislation’s scale and complexity, plus uncertainty over how the Senate bill will be meshed with the version that passed the House in November, make it difficult for most companies to gauge the effect it will have on the bottom line.
“We’re still committed to the notion that health reform can be done right, but I know of no company that is warmly embracing what is in either the House or Senate bills,” said Paul Dennett, top health-care adviser to the American Benefits Council, an advocacy group for large employers.

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