Rare is the occasion when both big business and small business find themselves on the same side of an issue, especially one that’s as complex as health care.
But sharply rising benefits costs, mainly driven by soaring health insurance rates, and growing global competition have put the squeeze on corporate America. Yesterday 36 major companies cried uncle. The Los Angeles Times reported that they have created a group called the Coalition to Advance Health Care Reform. It’s goal? To push for government-funded health care for all Americans.
Naturally, there is a self-serving element here. The group wants to excise the burden of providing health insurance from the balance sheet once and for all, “not so much out of social solidarity, as out of financial necessity,” according to a spokesman.
Of course, any movement toward national health insurance would be a major boon to small businesses. Most of the 46 million Americans who are currently uninsured work in small firms that can’t afford high premiums to cover their workers.
You may recall, I wrote back in March that momentum was building in Congress to reconsider the merits of government-funded universal health care. This will certainly fuel the fire. Senator and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton led the last push in the mid-90s during her husband’s administration. The effort, widely derided by conservatives, was dead on arrival in Congress.
And this effort seems to suffer from the same fatal flaw; the coalition has yet to propose a way to pay for universal coverage. As one expert told the New York Times last month, without a funding mechanism, universal health care is nothing more than a “mirage.”