Caterpillar Opposes Health Care Bill, AARP and AMA Support It

By Matt Loffman

Mar 19, 2010 2:04pm

As Congress prepares for a final vote on health care reform legislation, an executive from Caterpillar, Inc., notified the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House that the company is asking legislators to vote against the health care reform bill because it will drive up the company's health care costs "by more than 20 percent (over $100 million) in the first year alone and put at risk the coverage our current employees and retirees receive."

Gregory Folley, vice president and chief human resources officer of Caterpillar, wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, yesterday that requirements that the company provide health insurance and other parts of the bill would put the company “at a disadvantage versus global competitors that are not similarly burdened.”

Two advocacy groups that have long supported the administration’s larger health care reform efforts, meanwhile, specifically endorsed the legislation today: the AARP and the American Medical Association.

In a statement, AARP Board Chair Bonnie M. Cramer, M.S.W., said, “After a thorough analysis of the reform package, we believe this legislation brings us so much closer to helping millions of older Americans get quality, affordable health care.  For too long, our members and others have faced spiraling prescription drug costs, discriminatory practices by insurance companies and a Medicare system awash in fraud, waste and abuse.”

Added Cramer: “We understand that significant work remains even after this package becomes law, but we cannot lose the opportunity looking for a ‘next time’ that is doomed to be ‘too late.’”

The AMA offered what the group called “qualified support” for the current health reform bill, with J. AMA president Dr. James Rohack saying the “pending bill is imperfect, but we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good when it comes to something as important as the health of Americans. By extending health coverage to the vast majority of the uninsured, improving competition and choice in the insurance marketplace, promoting prevention and wellness, reducing administrative burdens, and promoting clinical comparative effectiveness research, this bill will help patients and their physicians.”

The AMA took issue with the bill’s failure to permanently repeal “the Medicare physician payment formula that will cut Medicare payments by 21 percent next month” as well as the legislation’s Independent Payment Advisory Board which the group said “could result in misguided payment cuts that undermine access to care and destabilize health care delivery.”

-jpt

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