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FACTBOX: Business reacts to Senate passing health reform
(Reuters) - The U.S. Senate approved President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare overhaul on Thursday, backing sweeping changes in the medical insurance market and new coverage for tens of millions of uninsured Americans.
On a party-line 60-39 vote, Senate Democrats supported the most dramatic shifts in health policy in four decades.
The vote clears the way for tough negotiations in January with the House of Representatives, which approved its own version on November 7 that features different approaches on taxes, abortion and a proposed new government-run insurance program.
Here is reaction to the passage of the Senate bill from healthcare companies and other business groups:
KAREN IGNAGNI, CEO, AMERICA'S HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS
"Providing all Americans with health care coverage is crucial for the country. Health plans support legislative changes that would provide guaranteed access to all Americans, with no pre-existing condition limitations and no health-status-based premiums.
"At the same time, specific provisions in this legislation will increase, rather than decrease, health care costs; reduce coverage options; and disrupt existing coverage for families, seniors and small businesses -- particularly between now and when the legislation is fully implemented in 2014."
RON WILLIAMS, CEO, AETNA
"Today, the Senate took an important step, but reform that doesn't deal with affordability, tied to health care quality, is not a complete victory for consumers...
"The Senate has not done enough on addressing costs and has actually exacerbated the problem of affordability by choosing to pay for reform through billions of dollars in additional taxes on the health care system which will be transferred to the consumer through higher costs and will therefore hurt health care affordability for the average American."
KEN JOHNSON, SENIOR VP, PHARMACEUTICAL RESEARCH AND MANUFACTURERS
"We applaud the Senate for taking an important and historic step toward expanding high-quality, affordable health care coverage and services to tens of millions of Americans, many of whom are struggling today financially. While considerable work remains to be done in reconciling differences between the Senate and House bills, we remain convinced that comprehensive health care reform, if done in a smart way, will benefit patients, our economy and the future of our nation."
BRUCE JOSTEN, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
"The business community has been consistent in calling for health care reform, but the bill that was passed by the Senate today is counterproductive, does little to lower the cost of health care, and it is not reform. It implements crippling new taxes, and hurts our ability to create jobs at the worst possible time for the economy...
"We recognize that the health care debate is not over yet. We are hopeful that a conference between the Senate and House can bring all stakeholders back to the table. Since employers are the ones who will be responsible for putting this reform into practice, their concerns must be addressed."
JOHN ARENSMEYER, CEO, SMALL BUSINESS MAJORITY
"We are closer than we've ever been to fixing many of the flaws in our broken healthcare system, and getting America's 28 million small business owners some real relief. Compromises had to be made to get us this far. Although not every provision we hoped for made the final cut, we're confident that what remains far outweighs what was lost and provides small businesses the support they need to succeed. This bill includes stringent insurance reforms -- such as the elimination of preexisting condition rules and discrimination based on gender or health status -- and strong provisions to control costs...
"Small businesses will also have more choices, and more clout in negotiating premiums, thanks to a provision that requires that at least two multi-state health plans -- at least one of which must be a nonprofit -- be offered through all 50 state exchanges."
RICH UMBDENSTOCK, CEO, AMERICAN HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION
"Hospitals support many of the bill's provisions that help increase coverage, including utilizing non-governmental, non-profit entities to provide more choice for consumers. At the same time, we would like to work with lawmakers to increase the levels of coverage and address other issues of concern to hospitals that can improve the package."
JIM GREENWOOD, CEO, BIOTECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY ORGANIZATION
"This bill establishes, for the first time ever, a pathway to allow for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of biosimilars, sometimes inaccurately referred to as 'biogenerics'. Through this provision ... patients with devastating diseases will have increased access to safe and effective life-saving advanced therapies and can take comfort in the knowledge that this bill will accelerate the biotechnology sector's drive toward discovering new treatments, therapies and cures for diseases that have plagued us for years.
"The Senate bill also provides relief to investment-starved small biotechnology research companies by creating a therapeutic discovery project tax credit. This proposal ... would support small and emerging biotechnology companies by providing a tax credit to help offset a portion of resources spent on therapeutic development activities, including hiring scientists and conducting clinical studies. These credits would help sustain projects that likely will lead to new therapies to treat areas of unmet medical need, address chronic or acute diseases, reduce long-term health care costs, or significantly advance President Obama's challenge to cure cancer in our lifetime."
STEPHEN UBL, CEO, ADVANCED MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY ASSOCIATION
"We look forward to working with bipartisan congressional leaders to further strengthen the legislation, including modification of the Independent Payment Advisory Board to provide for greater public input.
"The tax on medical devices and diagnostics present significant challenges for our industry, but we are committed to working constructively on a number of important refinements to implementation. These include a start date of 2013 to allow companies reasonable time to prepare for the tax, protections for small companies, and ensuring that the tax is deductible."
KATHLEEN JAEGER, CEO, GENERIC PHARMACEUTICAL ASSOCIATION
"The bill passed by the Senate unfortunately amounts to a treasure trove to brand drug companies who stand to make enormous profits from health care reform -- putting brand drug profits over patients. This bill is a missed opportunity to expand access to affordable medicine while also reducing drug costs."
(Compiled by Lewis Krauskopf and Susan Heavey; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)
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