Editor’s note: This post is taken from prepared remarks made by Salt Lake Chamber President and CEO Lane Beattie at the Utah State Capitol.
Good morning. I’m grateful for the opportunity to weigh in on behalf of the business community on this important issue.
The Salt Lake Chamber is Utah’s business leader. We have members in all 29 Utah counties and we represent 7,700 businesses and over half the jobs in our state.
The Salt Lake Chamber stands in opposition to tax increases—particularly hidden taxes and unfunded mandates.
Federal law requires Utah to choose an essential health benefit package this year. Our choice will have long-standing and far-reaching consequences.
Special interests are already bombarding legislators with demands to cover an ever-expanding range of issues, and essentially demanding they lock them in for good. These unfunded mandates would cripple businesses’ ability to cover even the most essential health benefits and they would stifle economic growth.
Business bears the burden of providing health coverage—not only for Utah workers—but for their families as well. It is a significant responsibility and not a small contribution.
In 2008, the business community, led by the Salt Lake Chamber, signed what is known as the Health System Reform Business Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.
In it we state, “businesses have the right to ask our government to work with the private sector to define an essential benefit package that will cover preventive, primary and emergency care. Although defining a basic benefit is complicated and difficult, it is an important step in achieving health care coverage for all Utah residents, encouraging individuals to be wise consumers of health care and allowing competition to control costs.”
Unfortunately, federal health reform focused on increasing access to an already unsustainable system while failing to address the costs.
There are more people sharing the same size pizza and leaving the deliveryman to pay for it all.
We urge members of the House and the Senate to keep at the forefront of all discussions regarding the establishment of Essential Health Benefits the understanding that mandating more coverage amounts to nothing more than a hidden tax increase on the businesses that pay for the coverage.
They say facts are stubborn things, and the fact is… mandating more coverage will ultimately be the same as mandating no coverage… because business simply cannot continue to foot the ever-increasing bill.