business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports on the efforts by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to mandate universal health care in his state, a move that would “require employers to pay into the health-care system as well as tax hospitals and doctors to help offset medical coverage's spiraling costs.”

It is, the Journal notes, just the latest in a series of moves around the country to address the health care crisis in America. “Mandates for some employers to pay more of their share if they don't already have been passed in Vermont and Maryland, as well as New York City and San Francisco,” the Journal writes. “Maryland's law was thrown out by a federal judge last year after a legal challenge.”

After Schwarzenegger announced his proposal, Safeway CEO Steve Burd issued a statement of support.

“The Governor has put forth an innovative and broad-based proposal to fix California’s broken health care system and I applaud his leadership,” said Burd. “The Governor’s proposal contains key elements critical to any health care reform proposal, including market-based solutions, cost controls, more individual and shared responsibility in health care decision-making, and a greater role for preventive care and behavior.”

According to the Safeway press release, Burd “cited key elements in the Governor’s plan that would reduce overall health care costs, insure all Californians and solve many of the inefficiencies that drive up health care costs. The Governor’s plan includes market-based solutions, an individual mandate, incentives to encourage healthy behavior, an emphasis on preventive care, and shared responsibility among individuals, employers, government and health care providers.”

Burd said, “There is an opportunity for California to lead the national debate on health care reform and drive the federal government to finally take action in solving this national crisis. With business, labor, government, consumer groups and health care providers working together, we can collectively solve this problem.”

The Journal notes that Burd and other business leaders supporting the Schwarzenegger plan have a vested interest: “They already pay to fund medical plans for their employees, and resent the competitors who don't.”
KC's View:
“The competitors who don’t?” Gee, we wonder what companies they could be talking about?

We were thinking as we read the Journal story about the prediction that within the next 10 years, virtually every consumer decision will be connected to personal health…and realized that this probably includes voting, which is the ultimate consumer decision. Which is why politicians of all stripes are going to have to deal with this issue, and companies are going to have to do more than fund public relations campaigns and television commercials to deal with the national health care crisis.