WASHINGTON — Now that two key House committees have passed pieces of comprehensive health care reform legislation containing a controversial employer mandate, Democratic leaders are awaiting action by a third panel to advance President Obama’s signature issue.
Retailers have been closely monitoring the Congressional process with an eye on employer mandates, which have pitted Wal-Mart Stores Inc. against a large swath of the retail industry. Most retailers, including the industry’s largest trade group, the National Retail Federation, oppose Wal-Mart’s support of the concept of employer mandates.
The House Ways & Means and Education & Labor committees approved their portions of the bill on Friday by votes of23 to 18 and 26 to 22, respectively.
The House Energy & Commerce Committee has yet to vote on the health care reform measure and is expected to continue debating the overall cost of the estimated $1 trillion bill this week. Fiscally conservative Democrats, worried about the cost of the bill, are slowing down prospects for quick passage on that panel.
House Democratic leaders will have to merge the three panels’ measures before sending a health care package to the floor for a vote. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) has said she hopes to schedule that vote before lawmakers adjourn at the end of July for a monthlong recess.
The Senate is still awaiting action in the Finance Committee on the tax portion of the bill after the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions committee approved its measure last week.
The House bill is estimated to cost $1 trillion over the next 10 years. It would also impose a surtax on wealthy Americans, beginning with a 1 percent levy for couples earning $350,000 and rising to 5.4 percent on income above $1 million, to help offset the costs, in conjunction with new employer payroll taxes.
It includes an employer mandate that gives companies the option of providing health insurance to all employees or paying higher payroll taxes that will be used to provide health care benefits to employees left uncovered. The new payroll taxes, which many industry groups are calling penalties for employers opting not to provide coverage to all employees, would phase in starting at 2 percent for firms with annual payrolls of more than $250,000 and rise to the full 8 percent for firms with annual payrolls above $400,000.
Employers that opt for covering employees would have to cover 72.5 percent of the premium for individuals and 65 percent for family coverage. The legislation would exempt small employers, defined as payrolls under $250,000, from the employer mandate.
The Senate bill, part of broader reform legislation, would assess a $750 annual fee per full-time employee not covered by an employers’ health insurance plan and $375 fee per part-time worker not covered if the employer does not meet the 60 percent monthly premium coverage threshold. Companies with fewer than 25 employees would be exempt from the fees. It would also establish a government-run insurance option.
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
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In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye