Job Losses & Health Care

THE NATIONAL Retail Federation (NRF) expressed disappointment recently in the Senate passage of health care reform legislation, saying the measure does little to reduce costs for businesses, and is likely to result in further retail job losses.

According to the NRF, “the Senate thinks it has given American businesses and the public a present, but this isn’t what was sought, and it needs to be returned,” suggests NRF VP and employee benefits policy counsel, Neil Trautwein. “What we asked for and what Congress promised was a plan that would bring costs under control and make health care more accessible by making it more affordable. What we received are employer mandates and other provisions that will drive up costs that are already far too high, and will endanger the employer provided health insurance system that millions of American families depend on. It’s time for Congress to go back to the drawing board and come up with a health care plan that would actually make solid progress in reducing costs. That would be a gift worth celebrating.”

The employer mandates in both the House and Senate bills amount to a tax on jobs that will drive up labor costs for retailers, at a time when the struggling economy and razor thin profit margins give us the least ability to absorb the added expense, according to Trautwein. “If labor costs increase, many retailers will have no choice but to reduce the size of their workforces. The net result of this legislation is that some workers who currently have both a job and health insurance might find themselves with neither.”