WASHINGTON-In the midst of the legislative scramble for a comprehensive health care bill, the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association has thrown its weight against a government-mandated health care system. The NTDRA ``is unalterably opposed to any health care reform proposal that includes a government mandate requiring employers to pay for all or part of health insurance costs for employees,'' said NTDRA Executive Vice President Philip P. Friedlander Jr. in a March 1 letter to the House Ways and Means Committee.
``We believe an employer mandate would cause severe harm to tens of thousands of small businesses, many of their employees and the nation's economy as a whole,'' Mr. Friedlander said.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) agrees.
``Mandates are the worst possible way to contain costs and expand coverage,'' said NAM President Jerry Jasinowski at a March 23 press conference. ``The health care debate is going off in unrealistic directions on what we can do, what we can afford and what the country wants.''
He said the NAM favors cost containment through market-driven competition and a gradual phase-in of expanded benefits to cover the nation's uninsured.
NAM recommendations include establishment of voluntary health care purchasing groups that would help companies and individuals increase their buying power, he said, adding that group competition would help contain costs.
A basic benefits package, insurance reforms and efforts to cut administrative costs are vital to effective health care reform, according to the NAM. So are incentives for individual health care purchasers to become more cost-and value-conscious in selecting services and preventive care.
Instead of a payroll tax to fund the reform, the NAM said it favors a ``broad-based'' tax.
Mandated benefits-as envisioned under the Clinton health care plan-will only create a new bureaucracy, raise health care costs and hamper job creation within small business, Mr. Jasinowski said. They also will fail in their purpose of bringing coverage to the uninsured, since most U.S. citizens without health care coverage are the unemployed poor.
Although the original Clinton plan is moribund, Congress is considering several alternatives to it. On March 23, the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee passed a compromise plan by Rep. Fortney ``Pete'' Stark, D-Calif., that contains employer mandates and a 1 percent payroll tax on self-insured employers. It jettisons the Clinton provision for mandatory ``purchasing alliances.''
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., also has drafted a plan which calls for voluntary purchasing groups and a payroll tax of 1 or 2 percent for employers who don't provide health care.