Business Leaders Split on Health Care Reform
Executives for major corporations -- who increasingly are calling for "broad" reforms of the employer-sponsored health insurance system -- "are by no means speaking with one voice" about specific changes, the New York Times reports.
Retailers and older companies "are more likely to welcome government help on coverage for workers who leave before they are eligible for Medicare," whereas "Silicon Valley technology companies that do not have or need retiree coverage are wary of new taxpayer-financed subsidies," the Times reports.
Craig Barrett -- chair of Intel, which is a member of the Better Health Care Together campaign, a coalition of businesses and labor unions with a goal to achieve health care reform by 2012 -- said that the private sector could do a better job of improving health care efficiency than the federal government. Barrett said that corporate health insurance purchasers could use their buying power to push for technological advancements -- such as electronic prescriptions, remote monitoring of patients with chronic diseases and electronic health records.
However, James Sinegal -- CEO of Costco Wholesale, another member of the coalition -- said, "The way it's going, there will be 75 million uninsured in another 10 years. The federal government has to lend some assistance."
Alan Reuther, legislative director of the United Automobile Workers, said that older corporations and their unions have significant interest in congressional measures that would allow retirees younger than 65 to qualify for Medicare or buy into Medicare with assistance from their former employers.
J. Randall MacDonald, senior vice president for human resources at I.B.M., said, "Regardless of who takes the lead, we collectively as a national society have to consolidate around three or four different ideas" (Freudenheim, New York Times, 4/6).