Magazine article Workforce Management

Health Reform Set to Heat Up in Late April

Magazine article Workforce Management

Health Reform Set to Heat Up in Late April

Article excerpt

CAPITOL HILL

For months now, a steady drumbeat has been building for health care reform on Capitol Hill. With the chairmen of two prominent Senate committees leading the charge, providers, insurers, employers and organized labor have provided their input.

Nearly everyone has been positive about the process. But when Congress returns from its spring recess April 20, the happy talk could turn into grumbling. Employers will be watching policy developments surrounding pay-or-play mandates, removing the tax exclusion on health care benefits and establishing a "public option" for health insurance.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has been leading the health care discussions along with Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts and chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

In a March speech to a meeting of the National Business Group on Health in Washington, Baucus said business has a key role in health care reform.

He acknowledged that it will be a challenge to figure out how to mesh existing company health care plans with a minimum federal standard. "My vision for reform is one of shared responsibility," Baucus said in his prepared remarks.

That message sunk in for Brian Marcotte, vice president of compensation and benefits at Honeywell

"I don't think there's a way we can avoid a mandate being in the mix," Marcotte said during a National Business Group on Health panel. …

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