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AFBF responds to health care bill
Buckeye Farm News
According to American Farm Bureau Health Policy Specialist Pat Wolff, without a way to keep costs under control, provisions in the new health care bill could put some farmers in a pinch.
“Farmers and ranchers don’t like the idea that the government is telling them that they have to have insurance. Insurance is expensive. If farmers and ranchers could afford it now they probably would cover themselves and their families,” she said.
To help ease the burden of health care costs, the bill includes an “exchange,” which Wolff likened to an eBay for insurance.
“There will be one exchange in each state. The bill defines four levels of insurance coverage: a basic plan, a high-end plan and two in between. And a person who wants to buy insurance on the exchange will go online, look at the four options, be able to tell what insurance companies are selling those plans for in their state and how much each one is charging,” she said.
The exchanges are similar to association health care plans, which Farm Bureau has supported for years.
But Wolff said the bill is long on mandates and short on things that will guarantee that prices will be contained.
“One of the things that’s missing from the bill is tort reform. So there’s no mention of doing away or scaling back the lawsuits that people bring against doctors and hospitals. Those lawsuits are believed to increase the costs of health care because doctors and hospitals do extra procedures and order extra tests just to prevent from being sued,” she said.
Wolff also noted that there are provisions in the bill that could protect farmers who hire part-time or seasonal workers.
“The requirement to provide coverage for employees – and that’s for businesses with over 50 people – is only for full-time employees. That’s people who work more than 30 hours a week. There’s also relief in the bill for those who hire seasonal workers, workers who are on a farm or in a business less than 120 days.”
AFBF had opposed the bill, believing that negatives of new taxes, mandates, growth in government programs and overall cost far outweigh its benefits.