A current joke runs, “I went to a hockey game and a town hall meeting broke out.” Public meetings about health-care reform proposed by the Obama administration almost became a new contact sport this summer. Amid the shouts of private citizens, it’s hard to hear the opinions of both for-profit companies and non-profit organizations that have struggled with health care issues for years.
How do these institutions that shoulder much of the financial burden of health care weigh in on the issue of health care reform?
1. Wal-Mart – Certainly one of the biggest supporters of Obama’s plan for health care reform is the world’s biggest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores. The company’s CEO, Mike Duke, has gone public with his hopes that a health care reform bill will become law. He is especially hopeful that the law will include a requirement that companies be fined if they don’t provide health care coverage for employees.
2. United Auto Workers – Health care expenses for both current auto workers and retirees account for a significant percentage of the costs in building a car. Concerned about the health care burdens of their members, the United Auto Workers union fully supports health care reform that – in the words of President Ron Gettelfinger – “would cover every man, woman and child in the United States.”
3. Albany Medical Center – James Barba, the CEO of this facility that serves 25 counties in eastern
4. Merck & Co. – Merck’s CEO, Richard Clark, met with President Obama in the White House in May and discussed his company’s commitment to bringing about health care reform. Some pundits say that Merck and other big pharmaceutical companies are among those standing to benefit the most from health care reform, for obvious reasons. Expanded insurance coverage means a bigger customer base for the industry.
1. Ford Motor Company – Some shareholders of the auto maker petitioned the company earlier this year to support health care reform. They claimed in their petition that “polls show that access to affordable, comprehensive health care insurance is the most significant social policy issue in
2. Whole Foods Market – Whole Foods CEO John Mackey weighed in against health care reform in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece published in August. Mackey wrote, “The last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits.” He offered several alternatives to the reforms proposed by Obama, including the removal of barriers to health savings accounts and tort reform.
3. CIGNA Corporation – CIGNA is representative of an insurance industry that is wary of Obama’s proposed health care reforms. CIGNA spokesman Chris Curran recently stated that, “A government-run plan would dismantle employer-based coverage, thereby violating the shared commitment to ensure that those who like their current coverage can keep it. We need a uniquely American approach to health care reform that builds on what is working in the current health care system.”
4. US Chamber of Commerce – The voice of American business states on its Web site that while the