With healthcare reform on the fast track, the question of whether employers should be required to provide coverage to their workers or pay the government to do so is taking center stage, with top Democrats supporting this idea while powerful business lobbies saying it would hurt the economy.
Dems support employer mandates, business doesn’t
Two reports out last week contend that this so-called employer mandate would be good for businesses and workers, boosting productivity while helping to finance healthcare reform.
Jacob Hacker and Ken Jacobs, professors at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote in a new paper released by the advocacy group Campaign for Americas Future that an employer mandate would ensure the continuation of our employer-based system and be an avenue to get the uninsured signed up for coverage. A separate report, by Phillip Cryan, who recently received a masters degree from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the Berkeley university, indicated that a modest payroll tax on employers would likely create healthcare jobs, increase worker productivity and improve efficiencies in the labor market.
Any employer mandate would have to be structured carefully, Hacker and Jacobs said. They lay out a play-or-pay modelmeaning all but the smallest businesses would provide healthcare or pay into a government fund to provide a minimum benefits package to workers. Hacker suggested businesses that dont offer coverage would pay a payroll tax of 5% to 6%.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce disagrees, contending that a mandate would be too onerous and cause higher unemployment. A mandate would force employers who cannot afford health insurance to reduce their payrolls and not hire new workers, Tom Donahue, chamber president and CEO, said in a written statement, adding that employers already pay $500 billion a year in workers health benefits.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.