Special Interest "Health Care" Bills Bad Public Policy

A Sample of What Opinion Makers and Public Policy Experts are Saying About These Bills:

Laura Tyson, the dean of the London Business School and a former economic adviser to President Bill Clinton said of the “Fair Share Health Care” approach, "This is a Band-Aid, arbitrary, firm-specific solution to one of the most important policy problems of the United States." (New York Times, 01/16/06)

Jason Furman, a New York University professor who was an economic adviser to the 2004 presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry, said of the Maryland legislation, “…the legislation will not help Wal-Mart workers in Maryland, and my hope is that other states will see that punitive efforts like this won’t be successful.”  (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 01/15/06)

"This will accomplish very little, and this totally misses the mark, which is to take appropriate steps to slow the kind of double-digit health care increases we’ve seen. This is so far off the mark it’s incredible.” (Bruce Josten, executive vice president of government affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, USA Today, 01/13/06)

Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania thinks it’s unfair for a state to punish a business for failing to provide health care when the government doesn’t do it. “I understand the passions behind the Wal-Mart bill, but it’s not the right answer.” (Associated Press, 01/24/06)

“A bill targeting large retailers ‘misses the point,’ said Christine Stearns, vice president of health and legal affairs for the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. She noted health care costs for employers have risen 55 percent during the past four years. ‘The point is,’ she said, ‘we need to work to make health insurance more affordable, the system as efficient as possible and ensure we are providing high quality care.’” (Asbury Park Press, 01/22/06)

A Sample of What Prominent Editorial Pages are Writing about These Bills:

“…since when do states have the right to penalize firms simply because they are big and successful? The Maryland bill is a legislative mugging masquerading as an act of benevolent social engineering… In trying to address the national problems of health care and uninsured workers, lawmakers in Maryland and other states could inflict on themselves a new set of problems while failing to solve the underlying one.” (Washington Post, 1/12/06)

“…rather than reform Medicaid to control its costs or stop its rampant fraud, the politicians find it easier to sock it to private business. One result will be that companies will create fewer new jobs…this is bad news for both business and workers in the long run.” (Wall Street Journal, 01/16/06)

“The big picture argues for more portability and broader choices for health care coverage, an issue Congress seems intent on ignoring. But it doesn’t argue for putting one employer in the crosshairs. … [I]t’s a bad idea for government to target one firm and dictate how it does business. The war declared by Maryland lawmakers may claim some of their constituents as casualties.” (Chicago Tribune, 01/23/06)

“The law is not actually called the Wal-Mart law, but it might as well be, as the Arkansas-based giant is the only company affected by it…Whatever the rights or wrongs of Wal-Mart’s modus operandi, it is unclear whether bashing the company will help Maryland very much…The bigger problem with insurance has to do with small firms. According to the Chamber of Commerce, roughly 25m of the 46m uninsured Americans work for companies with ten or fewer employees. If politicians attacked them, uproar would follow. Besides, the main reason why Medicaid spending keeps rising is not stingy employers, but rising health-care costs.” (The Economist, 01/21/06)

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