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NRF Protests Health Care Passage

WASHINGTON -- The National Retail Federation (NRF) yesterday expressed disappointment at Congress' passage of health care reform legislation, saying in a statement that added labor costs as a result of the bill will cost retail workers their jobs.

"This truly is an historic moment, but not a cause for celebration. Congress has embarked on a dangerous, anti-job experiment in the midst of the worst economy our nation has seen in decades," NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations Steve Pfister said in the statement when the bill left Congress. "Our nation simply cannot afford more job losses during this economy, and many businesses already struggling to keep their doors open may not be able to withstand this added financial burden."

Pfister also noted that while retailers want to expand coverage for its employees through lower costs, not employer mandates that do "little or nothing about the cost of medical care, which in turn drives higher coverage costs," he said.
The House on Sunday night voted 219-212 in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – which was passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve. President Obama signed the bill yesterday morning.

The NRF also urged the Senate to reject the amendments passed by the House, as they would exacerbate concerns about the lack of greater and more immediate savings for employer-sponsored health care coverage; penalties for employers who fail to provide health insurance coverage to full-time workers; and higher taxes that would be passed on to both employers and consumers.

"The 111th Congress' health care reform debate has been disappointing to say the least," Pfister said. "Retailers came to this debate with high hopes for lower health care and coverage costs. The legislation that emerged was punitive in its penalty mandates and insufficient in its approach to health reform and the cost of medical care."

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