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Business Groups Criticize House Health Care Plan

Updated: 5:40 p.m.National business groups on Wednesday roundly criticized a new House Democratic health care plan, blasting in separate letters to Members proposals to raise taxes and to create a public insurance option. The National Association of Manufacturers on Wednesday fired off the first letter to Members around midday. The organization’s letter, signed by NAM Executive Vice President Jay Timmons, stated that portions of America’s Affordable Health Choices Act would “not only threaten sustainable growth and job creation, but also our economy’s ability to recover at all.—NAM spokesman Hank Cox said his group is holding off on the big ammunition for the time being. NAM does not have any immediate plans, Cox said, to air television advertising aimed at turning public opinion against the Democratic proposal. But, he added, “we wouldn’t rule it out.— “You can assume that we’ve got this thing in our sights and that we see this as a deadly assault to small companies,— Cox said. “You can assume that we will go all-out to prevent this from happening.— House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a White House-backed health care proposal that is expected to cost more than $1 trillion. More than $500 billion in tax increases on wealthy Americans and changes to entitlement programs are expected to foot the bill for the proposed overhaul of the nation’s health care system.Shortly after NAM sent out its letter, the small-business lobby group National Federation of Independent Business released its own letter voicing opposition to the Democratic proposal. NFIB opposes the bill, it said, because “it threatens the viability of our nation’s job creators, fails to increase access and choice to all small businesses, destroys choice and competition for private insurance and fails to address the core challenge facing small business — cost.—NFIB said it is opposed to employer-mandated coverage and the public plan option, among other concerns. NFIB’s letter, signed by Senior Vice President Susan Eckerly, asked Congress to find health care “solutions tailored to the needs of the small business community.—NAM is critical of the proposed revenue hikes in the House bill, which the association claims “would threaten small business investment, growth, job retention and creation, employee benefits— and funding for research and development.“Nearly 70 percent of manufacturers pay taxes at the individual rate,— Timmons wrote. “Many of these businesses fall into the higher tax bracket, even though most of their taxed income — an average of $570,000 for small and medium sized manufacturers — is being reinvested into the business.—The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also had harsh words for the expected $500 billion in proposed tax increases. In a letter to House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday afternoon, chamber Executive Vice President R. Bruce Josten wrote that “this bill would greatly increase taxes on American businesses and families, do little to address the rising costs of health care, and restrict choice or force Americans to lose the health care coverage they have.—“This bill fails the Chamber’s simple litmus test for health reform legislation: in its current form this bill does not improve the current situation; it will largely make things worse,— Josten wrote.In its letter, the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors took issue with provisions in the massive bill that it claims will require employers to underwrite their employees’ insurance premiums or pay a penalty. “This does nothing to address the central problem of cost employers now face in providing health benefits to their employees, will do nothing to relieve employers of the staggering premium increases with which they have been burdened in recent years and will increase that burden for some,— NAW Vice President James Anderson wrote. Kate Ackley contributed to this report.