Wednesday, December 7 , 2016, 6:04 am | Fair 45º


Tom Donohue: What’s Next for Businesses and Health Care?

This month marks the third anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act becoming law, and there are still a lot businesses that don’t know about the health reform law.

PPACA has created enormous uncertainty for companies of every size — especially America’s small businesses. Without knowing what taxes, fines, fees and rules they’ll be subjected to — and without having a lot of guidance on how to comply with all that red tape — it’s hard for business owners to plan. It’s hard for them to invest and hire as well as know how to offer coverage to their employees.

On top of that, the law contains $800 billion in higher taxes and hundreds of new regulations and mandates that will drive up costs and eliminate jobs, creating even more instability and uncertainty in our economy.

But one thing is certain: Outright repeal is not a practical option.

The business community’s challenge now is to be engaged with the Obama administration as it issues rules to flesh out the policies and implement the new requirements over the next four years. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has already filed nearly 60 comment letters, which have led to several significant improvements in health-care regulations. We will continue to represent and protect the interests of consumers and businesses during this critical process.

The business community will work to mitigate the damage done to companies and employers as the implementation of PPACA continues, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that the American health-care system still needs reform.

Even with 2,700 pages of legislation, significant challenges remain. Health-care costs are climbing, and too many Americans will continue to be uninsured or underinsured. Patients have inadequate information on the quality and value of many services, hindering their ability to make well-informed choices about their care. More Americans are suffering from preventable chronic diseases that significantly drive up health-care costs.

Even as PPACA is being implemented, the Chamber of Commerce will work to advance crucial reforms to the health-care system. It is essential that we fix our entitlement programs, control rising costs for employers and families, improve wellness and prevent chronic diseases, expand access to insurance and health services, raise the quality of patient care, and advance innovation.

Just because we’ve been saddled with a burdensome law doesn’t mean we have to settle for a dysfunctional health system. If the business community works together, we can minimize the negative impact of PPACA and lead the charge on the market-driven solutions that will help deliver the kind of health-care system America deserves.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The opinions expressed are his own.

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