NRF asks lawmakers to reject proposed healthcare bill

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Washington, D.C. The National Retail Federation said Friday it has asked lawmakers to reject healthcare reform legislation expected to receive a vote in the House this weekend.

The NRF said the measure would drive up labor costs to the point of forcing job losses and that a “transparent procedural ploy” for passing the package would harm Congress’ reputation.

The association also said action on a House “rule,” the underlying legislation and related procedural motions will all be counted as key votes in NRF’s annual ranking of lawmakers on issues important to the retail industry.

“NRF has worked tirelessly to promote effective healthcare reforms that would lower the cost of medical care and expand access to coverage,” NRF senior VP for government relations Steve Pfister said. “We are disappointed by the direction of the congressional debate, particularly its punitive focus against employers.”

Pfister went on to say that it is an economic certainty that if labor costs significantly increase, retailers -- who operate on razor-thin profit margins -- will have no choice but to reduce the size of their work forces. “This is an outright tax on jobs, a dangerous strategy when our economy so clearly needs to grow through job creation. Healthcare reform in its current form will become the biggest anti-stimulus legislation imaginable,” he added.

Pfister said NRF opposes the Senate legislation because of its lack of greater and more immediate cost savings for employer-sponsored healthcare coverage, as well as its conditional mandate for employers to provide insurance coverage to full-time workers and higher taxes that would pass through to both employers and consumers.

Pfister said NRF will continue to seek comprehensive healthcare reform that would help the retail industry voluntarily provide high-quality health coverage to employees in a more affordable and cost-effective manner.