The National Restaurant Association has issued a statement on the health care reform package proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). CEO Dawn Sweeney, who joined the NRA from the AARP in 2007, is no stranger to the world of health care. Earlier this month, she lobbied for several amendments that have been included in Reid's bill.
 
"The Senate has made key improvements in its bill over the House-passed version," said Sweeney. "The health care reform package currently before the Senate demonstrates meaninful progess toward protecting jobs and small businesses while taking steps toward providing access to high quality, affordable health care for Americans.
 
"We need to ensure that the final bill improves job creation and entrepreneurship, and does not weaken the improvements included in the Senate bill," Sweeney said.
 
The association head expressed support for three key provisions: part-time worker exemption, the definition of full-time employee and extension of the 30-day waiting period.
 
"The part-time worker exemption is of critical importance to our industry," Sweeney said. "As the nation's second-largest private sector employer, this recognition addresses the nature of our business model and is essential for our ability to continue to create the jobs that form the foundation of our economy."
 
Sweeney said the association also applauds "the provisions that protect small businesses, which are the backbone of our industry and the U.S. economy," as well as the legislation's preservation of the ERISA framework "to allow larger, multi-state employers to continue to offer coverage."
 
Althought the NRA supports Sen. Maria Cantwell's (D-WA) leadership on the definition of a full-time employee, the association remains concerned that it does not yet reflect the seasonality and demographics of the industry, Sweeney said.
 
The Senate bill, thanks to the efforts of Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), extends the 30-day waiting period to 60 days, and the association continues to support expanding the time period to 90 days, she added.
"We very much appreciate the hard work of the many senators who have listened to and advocated for our concerns in this process," Sweeney said. "We will continue to work with the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Administration to develop a solution that allows the industry to provide its employees meaningful benefits and supports our industry's ability to generate the economic growth and jobs our nation needs."

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