The Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), today held a field hearing entitled, "Health Care Challenges Facing Pennsylvania's Workers and Job Creators." Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) joined Chairman Roe at the field hearing, which took place in Pennsylvania's Third Congressional District.
During the hearing, state and business leaders testified that increasing health care costs impose burdens on employers, restricting their ability to create new jobs. Additionally, they discussed ways the 2010 health care reform law has exacerbated the health care challenges facing Pennsylvania workers and employers.
"Recently, the Gallup polling company talked to a number of small business owners who said they weren't looking to hire new workers right now," stated Chairman Roe. "Gallup asked: Why? The vast majority expressed concerns about the state of the economy and poor sales. However, 46 percent of small business owners cited fear of government regulations and 48 percent pointed to rising health care costs. As a policymaker, these responses by our nation's leading job creators are startling yet not unexpected. For too long, some in Washington viewed our economic crisis as the political means to advance an agenda that ignores the real challenges facing the nation."
"Our state needs jobs," said Rep. Kelly. "We've been fortunate to experience modest progress recently as more Pennsylvanians are working today than a year ago. However, this progress still does not make up for the devastation caused by the economic downturn I am grateful for the opportunity to listen to folks in this room describe the challenges facing families in the Keystone state, and learn what you see coming in the horizon. Regrettably, I don't have to tell you that numerous new mandates and regulations will soon threaten our workplaces, thanks to the health care law many of us have dubbed ObamaCare.'"
Highlights from today's hearing include:
State Senator Donald C. White, Chairman, Pennsylvania State Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance: "To begin with, I want make it clear that Pennsylvania is taking the initial steps to comply with this federal mandate by January 1, 2013. The last thing that anyone in Pennsylvania wants is for the federal government to take this over and issue addition edicts over the people of my state -- and I am sure that feeling is echoed by my peers from most other states. And, yes, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is yet another mandate on states, on business and individuals and families."
Will Knetch, President, Wendell August Forge: "I believe that we as a nation are about to walk into an unknown abyss that humbly I believe our country will face with the full effect and implementation of the 2010 health care bill in 2013-14 The shear monstrous size of the bill intimidates most Americans and provides so many unknowns for the business community, it is scary. To paraphrase then-Speaker Pelosi during the voting on the bill in the House, "We have to pass it so we can read it.' In other words, no one really knows all of the tentacles of this bill and that is bad for America and bad for business."
Lori Joint, Director of Government Affairs, Manufacturer & Business Association: "Our member companies have been very clear in expressing their concerns over the uncertainty of this law and its potential implications and cost. That concern and uncertainty has caused a paralysis among many employers, who are now holding off on plans for growth and investment in their business operations. A majority of small-business owners are already dealing with increased regulatory and tax burdens and this is one more government intrusion that could negatively impact their ability to successfully run their business."
Paul T. Nelson, Owner and CEO, Waldameer Park, Inc.: "Waldameer is one of the major engines of promoting our region as a recreational area and have spent millions of dollars advertising between Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Cleveland What worries us is what the government is planning for part-time employees The majority of our part-time employees are students, and many of them are already on their parents' health insurance policies. Insurance companies are not interested in part-time employees being added to our plan. A part-time employee could have an expensive procedure, then leave employment, sticking the insurance company with the bill. This increased cost would cause the insurance company to raise our rates."
Patti-Ann Kanterman, CFO, Associated Ceramics & Technology: "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 is concerning for me mostly on the things that it did not do: It did not reduce cost of insurance; It did not reduce uncertainty of offering insurance; It did not force insurance companies to disclose information to the purchasers (employers); and it did nothing to address the supply side of the health care equation."
Kathleen Bishop, President and CEO, Meadville-Western Crawford County Chamber of Commerce: "Back in the day, if you were looking for work you either chose the employer who had benefits or you didn't. You also knew that if they offered Health insurance then you had a good chance at a retirement plan, vacation pay and paid holidays. But, sometimes you just wanted a good old fashioned job where you worked on straight commission and you took care of yourself. Just as men and women are not the same size and created equal, neither are businesses created equal, the health care reform bill cannot be a one size fits all. We should be able to choose!"