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Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Dose Of Socialism Could Save Our States - State Sponsored, Single Payer Healthcare Would Bring In Business & Jobs - Forbes

A Dose Of Socialism Could Save Our States - State Sponsored, Single Payer Healthcare Would Bring In Business & Jobs - Forbes



This is not a new idea.

A 2009 New York Times/CBS News Poll showing Am...
A 2009 New York Times/CBS News Poll showing American support for a single-payer from "In Poll, Wide Support for Government-Run Health" Image link (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
How often do we hear the argument that American business is suffering under the yoke of a healthcare system that places a huge responsibility on employers to carry the heavy load of insuring their employees?
According to a Gallup Poll out this week, 48 percent of small business owners who were polled said that their concern over healthcare costs is keeping them from hiring new employees.
That can’t be good.
Now, how often do we hear that the answer to the severely stressed financial circumstances of almost every state in the nation is to create a friendly business environment that will lure employers into the state and solve all the budget problems?
While state governments typically attempt to respond to the challenge of attracting business by lowering taxes, offering rebate deals to companies willing to relocate while tossing in some additional unimaginative ‘goodie’ packages that only mildly tempt business and eventually run out of steam, might there not be a better, more enduring carrot to be dangled before the eyes of business, both large and small?
In what strikes me as the greatest combination since chocolate met peanut butter, it makes nothing but dollars and sense for clever state governments to shift to a single-payer state healthcare system as the key driver for attracting business to their struggling domains.
Consider some of the substantial benefits to business in such an approach, as highlighted by the Business Coalition For Single Payer Healthcare:
  • Eliminate health care benefits and reduce their labor costs by 10 – 12 %
  • Cut workers’ compensation by up to 50%
  • Become more competitive with foreign products
  • Eliminate health care benefits management costs and related labor negotiations
Sure, there will be a benefit to all the state’s citizens, many of whom, for the first time, will have health care insurance available no matter what their financial circumstances. Not only will these folks be able to sleep at night knowing their families will have adequate and affordable care should a health crisis arrive at the same time as an employment crisis, but many of these people will be free, also for the first time, to start a business in support of a larger company coming into the state without fearing the loss of health insurance they received from their previous employer.
How is that not the American Way?
Of course, these individuals are often not the constituency that gets the support and the votes of reluctant, conservative state legislators who fear the wrath of financial backers and conservative voters back home who view a state single payer healthcare system as something akin to the Soviets storming their borders.
However, were these legislators to stop worrying about the ideological undertones of state operated single-payer systems and focus on the boon to business that such a system would bring about, this might actually prove palatable to the most strenuous objectors of such an approach to healthcare.ea.
In a 2011 piece by Jonathan Starr, the author highlights some unlikely supporters of single-payer health care:
For example, the new president of Health Care for All Pennsylvania is a Republican business owner named David Steil. He commented, “My commitment to a single-payer health care system has its roots in my 35 years of experience at the senior management level in several manufacturing companies. We must solve the health care dilemma if our businesses are going to compete in the international marketplace.”
We even learned this week that Louisiana Attorney General, Republican Buddy Caldwell—a member of the group of states suing the federal government over Obamacare—opposes the federal healthcare reform law specifically because he prefers a single-payer system.
While it should appear obvious that adopting single payer would give any state a leg up in attracting new business, there is a catch—if the financing mechanism merely replaces a company’s healthcare benefits burden with an equally unpleasant tax burden to pay the costs of the program, it isn’t going to work.
Thus, financing such a program is the key to success. Again, Mr. Starr does a great job of summing up the situation:
The appeal of single payer to businesses will depend heavily on how such a program is financed. As I have argued here, supporting single payer through progressive corporate and individual income taxes, scaled by ability to pay, should be much more appealing to businesses (as well as to individuals) than using payroll taxes. And, bills that attempt to apply special financial burdens to particular areas of commerce (e.g. H.R. 1068, which would impose an excise tax on securities and commodities transactions) have been politically stillborn. A fair, reasonable, and viable financing mechanism will be critical to gaining business community support.
This opportunity to resolve a lot of bad with some actual good is right there in front of us. But to make it work, states are going to have to enlist the involvement and support of both business and consumer advocates to find the right blend for financing such a system that works for all sides.
With so much ‘sturm und drang’ in the air as we await a Supreme Court verdict on Obamacare—one guaranteed to leave large segments of the nation unhappy no matter how the Court rules—it would seem logical that the time has come for people to set aside their allergic, ideological reaction to a solution that bears promise for resolving a myriad of tricky problems to the mutual benefit of both employer and employee, corporate citizen and individual family member.
For state governments willing to take a serious look at this, there is the promise of creating a flood of business flowing to their state. This will create jobs for local residents, free the entrepreneurial spirit that made this country great, improve business’ ability to compete and profit and give affordable and accessible health care to every citizen of a state.
And here’s a bonus—as the chart above reveals, Americans actually like the idea of single-payer health insurance and they like it a lot.
Could this be an ‘everybody wins’ scenario?

contact Rick at thepolicypage@gmail.com
Twitter @rickungar

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