Clinton health plan likely to change, Cardin tells business owners

March 01, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

Stay tuned -- the Clinton health care plan will change greatly as it moves through Congress, co-sponsoring U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin told a group of small business owners in Odenton yesterday.

And it may become more palatable to small businesses.

The 3rd District Democrat told members of the West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce that mandatory employer participation, a feature that offends small businesses, may be deferred for several years.

That delay, along with malpractice reform and other reforms, will give market forces time to address the current health care system's shortcomings while keeping its best features, he said.

Mr. Cardin, a member of the influential House Ways and Means committee, said he supports scrapping the plan's much-criticized mandatory health alliances in favor of voluntary alliances. He also said President Clinton's proposal will be simplified before it is approved.

Marcia Hall, executive director of the West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, said health care is a primary concern of her members. She said yesterday's health care symposium gave members a chance to learn more about the Clinton plan and let Mr. Cardin know their feelings.

James A. Klein, executive director of the Association of Private Pension and Welfare Plans and an opponent of the Clinton plan, told the group the plan is too rigid and will create problems for businesses employing workers from more than one state.

Geoffrey L. Johnson, president of the chamber's board and an insurance salesman, said the session was informative and gave chamber members a chance to hear about Mr. Clinton's plan "so that they would be scared to death about it."

But after listening to Mr. Cardin, he said he could support a version of the Clinton plan altered in the ways the congressman described. However, the plan's priority must be to insure the uninsured, he said.

Mary Chewning, who runs a property management company in Odenton with her husband, said the issue of the uninsured must be addressed. She also recommended that Congress "take it slow and easy, and not rush into something that may be a catastrophe in the end."

Dale Snyder, who runs an insurance and benefit planning firm in Millersville, said some of the changes Mr. Cardin mentioned sound good, but she is withholding judgment until she sees the plan's final version.

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