For better or worse, the partisan health care reform legislation passed by the Democratic Congress and signed by President Obama in late March will change the way health care is administered in the U.S.
The legislation is complex, and industry advocates are sorting through its 2,000-plus pages to analyze the potential effect on agricultural employers and allied industry businesses.
The new law presents significant administrative challenges and the economic burdens for growers.
While the legislation excludes undocumented workers and has provisions to limit employer mandates for smaller firms and employers of seasonal workers, many questions remain about how the system will work in practice.
Providing insurance to 32 million Americans is a laudable goal, but it comes with a price: expanded and intricate government mandates, Internal Revenue Service involvement in enforcement and ballooning government bureaucracy at a time when the threat of a federal fiscal crisis (as states such as California are already dealing with) looks increasingly real.
Health care reform legislation won’t likely be repealed. It is up to industry associations and lobbyists to make sure Capitol Hill lawmakers and federal regulators account for the needs of the fresh produce industry, not only for its economic contribution to the nation but also for its role as the supplier of nutritious fruits and vegetables to more than 300 million Americans.
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