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Industry Insight

PIA: Beware “Penalties” in Health-Care Bills

Printing Industries of America (

By Patrick Henry
Published: October 6, 2009

Printing Industries of America (PIA) continues to express concern about health-care reform proposals it believes would be too burdensome for printers. This week’s edition of Imprint, its legislative e-newsletter, updates members on the progress of health-care bills moving through the Senate Finance Committee. Of note for employers, says PIA, is the fact that this included “voting to stiffen penalties on employers that don’t offer health insurance to workers as part of the overall reform attempt. The original Baucus bill (i.e., that proposed by Sen. Max Baucus, D-MT) would have assessed a penalty fee on employers (50 workers or more) not offering health insurance by requiring a fee for each employee that purchased an individual plan through a new health insurance exchange; the logic behind Baucus's plan is that business fees would cover the cost of federal subsidies for workers. These fees would have been tax deductible. “However, an amendment passed that would prevent these fees from being tax deductible. This amendment sponsored by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) would increase funding for overall health care reform by $6.4 billion (up from the $27 billion in fees in the original bill). This is just an example of the type of amendment Printing Industries of America and others in the business community are working to beat back as the legislative process moves forward.” PrintPac, PIA’s political action committee, maintains that “the ‘shared responsibility’ (a.k.a. pay or play) provision mandating printers to provide health insurance to full- and part-time employees or to pay a penalty is too costly for an industry already roiling from the current economy. Also concerning are mandates that employers who offer insurance must pay the majority of premiums.” PrintPac, which opposes the idea of a government-run health insurance exchange program for small employers, claims that 97% of printing companies already offer health insurance to employees and their dependents. Printing employers: what are your best hopes—or worst fears—about the health-care reform proposals now being deliberated by Congress?

Patrick Henry, Executive Editor for WhatTheyThink.com is also the director of Liberty or Death Communications, a consultancy specializing in research, education, promotional, and editorial support services for the printing and publishing industries.

Patrick Henry is available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. To get more information contact us here.

Please offer your feedback to Patrick. He can be reached at patrick.henry@whattheythink.com.



By Craig Lewis on Oct 07, 2009

Let me see if I have this right. 97% of printing companies, according to PIA, already have health care plans. The 3% who don't likely have less than 50 employees and probably don't belong to PIA anyway. What's the problem here? PIA should poll its members on whether they think their current plans are economically feasible. If you're in Maine, for example, the largest health provider has imposed double digit premium increases in 9 of the last 10 years. Wonder why Olympia Snowe might vote for the Baucus bill? Maybe the PIA execs are worried their own "Cadillac health plans" might get taxed.


By MichaelJ on Oct 12, 2009

Given that health care expenses are crushing family owned printers, this position makes no sense. A public option to make sure the insurance companies have normal competition to get their rates lower seems like just common sense. What are they seeing that I'm missing, and why are they using member dues to pay for lobbyists doing exactly the wrong thing? It would be very easy to do an online survey to find out what PIA members want, instead of assuming what they need.


By JoeO on Oct 12, 2009

I agree that the escalating costs of healthcare have reached a crisis stage. However, the notion that the government will be able to provide a more efficient program that will not ultimately increase taxes on employers defies logic. The biggest problem is the lack of competition due to too much government regulation. If the government would allow health insurance to be purchased over state lines and provide employees with the same tax benefits that employers get when purchasing health care, it would increase competition and accountability. This would do more to create efficiencies and bring costs down than the government could ever hope to do through legislation.


By michaelJ on Oct 12, 2009

but as I understand it, the issue is letting the government compete with private insurance companies. If they can't be efficient, then people won't choose them. Meanwhile from everything I've read both medicare and the VA system have a much lower overhead cost than the insurance companies. The cost of healthcare was a major contributor to bringing down GM and the US has the highest cost of health among advanced economies. What do you think I'm missing?


By JoeO on Oct 13, 2009

I think you are missing the fact that Medicare is on the verge of bankruptcy. It is on an unsustainable path. Medicare may be non-profit, but as long as we have Congressman willing to promise endless benefits without being able to fund it, the program will be doomed. We simply cannot keep providing unfunded benefits unless we raise taxes and impede future economic growth, which will only compound the problem. As far as GM, they, like the government, overcommitted to what they were able to afford, knowing full well that someone (the taxpayer) would pick up the tab if it did not work out.


By Susan Kinney on Oct 13, 2009

If I understand the bill right it does not only include employee but their dependents as well. We provide insurance for our employees but our employees pay for their dependents. I believe this is standard for most printing companies. Does this bill require us to also pay for dependents?


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