Retail Trade Association Recommends Health Care Reform

January 25, 2008 ( - The National Retail Federation (NRF) has presented Congress and the Bush Administration with a comprehensive package of recommendations on how to reform the nation's health care system.

According to a press release, within the Federation’s report was the recommendation that the government should “consider requiring individuals to obtain health insurance coverage.” The NRF said it believes about 24 million of the nation’s estimated 44 million uninsured could become covered if everyone were required to participate in employer-offered plans, participate in government plans for which they are eligible – such as Medicaid, or purchase health insurance on their own.

The Federation also pointed out an individual mandate would help many companies with their current difficulty in getting young, healthy employees to participate in their insurance plans – a move that would help lower costs averaged out over each company’s pool of workers.

The report also included a recommendation that businesses should be encouraged but not required to offer employees access to coverage. State lawmakers should be encouraged to refrain from passing benefit coverage mandates, employer mandates or mandatory employer contributions; and should consider setting a sunset date for existing mandates or allowing low-cost alternatives, the NRF suggested, according to the press release.

Other recommendations by the NRF, according to the press release, included:

  • Consideration of voluntary coverage options for part-time workers that emphasize prevention and help protect against catastrophic health expenses;
  • Lawmakers should consider group purchasing or risk-pooling programs to increase access for small businesses and individuals, and also consider tax credits for individuals or small businesses;
  • Initiatives to engage consumers in managing their health care and shopping for high quality and low costs;
  • Initiatives that promote wellness in the workforce should be encouraged, and the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) should be preserved to allow employers to sponsor uniform benefits across state lines;
  • Expanded use of information technology in health care, especially electronic patient records that could help reduce medical errors, avoid duplication of procedures, and be easily moved with patients from one health care doctor or plan to the next.
  • Evidence-based medical standards should be applied wherever possible, team-based approaches to medicine should be encouraged, information about health costs and quality should be made available online for comparison shopping, and fees should be based on quality.

More information about the NRF is at .