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Employer Mandate Proposal for Baucus Health Care Reform Bill Withdrawn

The Senate Finance Committee avoided a vote Thursday, September 24, on an amendment to health care reform legislation that would impose a fee on employers not offering health care coverage to employees.

September 25, 2009
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The Senate Finance Committee avoided a vote Thursday, September 24, on an amendment to health care reform legislation that would impose a fee on employers not offering health care coverage to employees when Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts withdrew it.

Under Kerry’s the so-called “play or pay” amendment, which business groups staunchly opposed, employers with at least 26 employees would have to pay an annual fee of $750 for each full-time employee and $375 for each part-time employee not covered by a health insurance plan.

The amendment mirrored a provision in a health care reform package that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed in July.

Kerry said more employers will terminate health care coverage without an employer mandate and that the amendment would help to keep employers in the health care financing system.

He also said that as the Finance Committee continues consideration of a reform bill proposed by its chairman, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, such a requirement would ensure greater fairness, noting that employers should be responsible for offering coverage if individuals are required to enroll in a health care plan or pay a financial penalty.

“We call this shared responsibility,” Kerry said.

However, after discussing his amendment, Kerry abruptly withdrew it and suggested he will propose it again when reform legislation reaches the Senate floor.

Business groups criticized the amendment.

Filed by Jerry Geisel of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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