"The thing that scares us the most is holding the employer liable. We go through a middleman, or broker. We have absolutely nothing to do with the decisions that are made for healthcare, and to sue us for it could be devastating," says Bob Richard, who owns a small chain of convenience stores based in Ohio.
A large volume of similar tales was presented at the event that brought together key backers of the White House plan, including Fletcher. He told reporters that he was now "95%" in sync with the tougher measure written by Norwood and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.). However, he still has some serious concerns.
"Even though they say you have to exhaust external review, at any point you can sue if you just allege harm. There's very little limits," Fletcher, who's also an MD in family practice, tells WebMD. He estimates that up to nine million people will lose coverage under the Senate version.
However, others dispute that number.
"The claims that it's going to lead to massive loss of insurance coverage are really overheated, provided that the bill contains, as all of them now do, solid protections for employers, who keep at arms length from being sued," Henry Aaron, PhD, a healthcare policy analyst from the Brookings Institution, tells WebMD.
He also points out that a Congressional Budget Office assessment of the Senate and the White House backed plans show that the Senate measure would only add 1.4% more to the total premium cost over five years.
"There are some who will be at the margin ... and if costs go up a little more, you can find some employers who will decide because of that additional little increase, they will drop it," says Aaron.