A key Republican senator said Saturday that a crucial part of President Clinton's health care reform plan requiring employers to pay most of their workers' health insurance will not pass Congress.
"I support mandates, but I am afraid the mandate is dead," Sen. Bob Packwood (R-Ore.) told reporters.
President Clinton had proposed the so-called employer mandate as a way to provide health care benefits for the 39 million Americans who lack insurance.
Clinton proposed that employers pay 80% of the cost while workers pay the rest, but the mandate issue has run into stiff opposition from small business.
Some lawmakers have suggested requiring individuals to buy health insurance, but Packwood said that proposal does not have enough support in Congress to be enacted either.
Packwood, the ranking GOP member of the Senate Finance Committee, talked to reporters after speaking about health care reform behind closed doors to the Business Council, an elite group of corporate executives.
Administration officials, who also met with the executives this weekend, said they are optimistic that health care legislation will pass Congress this year.
"It may be very late in the session, but there will be legislation," Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman said.