CONTRADICTORY COALITION PUSHES HEALTH REFORM
May 14, 2007
Fortune 500 companies, facing medical bills they say could bury them, banded together this week to form a coalition that will push Congress to reform the country's health care system, says Gregory Lopes, a health care columnist for the Washington Times.
There is no doubting that health care costs are a significant problem for American businesses, says Lopes. At the current growth rate, medical expenses will make up 22 percent of the country's gross domestic product by 2015, putting a cramp in U.S. companies' ability to compete globally.
But the coalition's suggestions don't necessarily support their goals. In health care, a contradiction exists when calls for reform based on competitive market principles are mixed up with a desire for mandatory coverage. For instance:
- The coalition wants insurance companies to sell policies to anyone who asks, which deals with the troublesome issue of covering people with pre-existing conditions.
- Such a requirement, which exists in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and a few other states, requires states to promote insurance regulation that drives up the cost of coverage for young people in order to cover the elderly.
- It also says it will push federal lawmakers to provide tax breaks to individuals who pay for their own health care costs, as businesses receive now.
"The coalition's plan is a muddled mess," says Devon Herrick, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. "On the one hand, they promote market-based ideas to increase access and promote competition, and on the other, they promote artificial controls on the market and mandatory coverage."
Source: Gregory Lopes, "Coalition pushes health reform," Washington Times, May 11, 2007.
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