Governor speaks to businesses about reform |

Governor speaks to businesses about reform

DENVER – Gov. Bill Ritter on Tuesday defended new federal reform for health care, telling business leaders it will save them money in the long run.

The governor held a telephone town hall with concerned business leaders over the cost and impact of federal reform. He said the impacts on businesses were exaggerated and that the federal program will help businesses control costs.

“We must no longer pay for volume, but pay for value,” Ritter said.

Ritter said he delayed the conference with business leaders until after the election because the issue had become too politicized.

“There wasn’t a very good discussion about the substance of health care,” Ritter said.

Ritter said it will be up to Democratic Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper to carry out the next steps, including health care exchanges required under the new law.

The exchanges, a major part of health care reform signed into law by President Barack Obama, allows individuals and small business owners to pool their purchasing power, allowing one-stop comparison shopping.

Ritter said the state has already taken significant steps to control health care cost by imposing limits on lawsuits of $1 million.

Bill Lindsay, who chaired the governor’s commission on health care reform, said businesses will continue to offer health insurance to employees because they want to be socially responsible. He said the improving economy will force businesses to offer it because they will need to compete for workers.

Tony Gagliardi, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, disagreed, saying the new laws will cost jobs.

He said increased requirements for companies with more than 50 employees will force companies near the limit to eliminate jobs. He said if individual employees decide to get their own coverage, companies could be fined.

Gagliardi also said tax benefits to companies have been exaggerated, promising 35 percent tax cuts when the average tax cut will be much smaller.

“Everyone keeps saying companies will get a 35 percent tax credit, and that’s just not the case,” Gagliardi said.

The new federal health care law aims to ensure coverage for all, requiring most U.S. residents to have insurance starting in 2014.

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