Washington Post Examines Employer Actions To Address Rising Health Care Costs
The Washington Post on Wednesday examined how employers are handling "escalating health insurance costs and a frightening scarcity of remedies." The Post reports that while executives for both large and small businesses say health insurance costs are "perhaps the biggest threat to their bottom lines," they are "spooked by the prospect of a 'Washington solution'" and have "studiously shied away from the political arena." Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry (Mass.) is trying to "peel business support away from President Bush" by having campaign aide and investment banker Roger Altman devise a program "to woo chief executives to talk up aspects of [Kerry's health] plan, if not endorse the Democrat," the Post reports. Kerry's plan to have a national insurance pool to help cover "catastrophic" medical costs could "be a seed for bipartisan reform," Bruce Josten, chief lobbyist of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said. However, many business groups contend that neither Democrats nor Republicans have "embraced proposals that will truly bring down spiraling costs," according to the Post. Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, said that Kerry's plan "doesn't solve the cost problem," adding, "It's hard to get on board with something that you don't think is a solution. That goes for everybody's plan so far." James Klein, president of the American Benefits Council, said, "Employers always stand to lose, everyone stands to lose, when health care becomes politicized," adding, "Employers have seen health care politics over the years, and good health care policy does not tend to emerge from health care politics." Darling said that the government could cut medical costs by only doing business with care providers that "immediately adopt uniform, efficient technologies" and "track and publish information on health care quality," the Post reports. However, labor unions contend that business executives' solution is to "fois[t] rising [health] costs on employees," the Post reports. Ted Chein, an analyst for Watson Wyatt Worldwide, said that employers "are getting employees prepared should they" cut all medical benefits. He added, "If [health care] costs don't abate, the likely possibility is that employers will just want to get out of the business" (Weisman, Washington Post, 5/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.