How dare the CEO of Wal-Mart, the company that makes such a studied practice of paying workers so badly that taxpayers subsidize its prices, say he and big business should influence health care policy? The US has the most costly healthcare in the world while failing to produce materially better results than countries with varying degrees of so-called socialized medicine. Large corporations are the most powerful buyers in the health care system, yet their efforts to improve delivery and lower costs have been singularly unproductive. So why should a crowd that has consistently failed have any say in reform?
And Wal-Mart promoting this line is particularly heinous. The Bentonville giant is known for keeping workers just below the number of hours to qualify them as full-time, precisely to avoid giving benefits such as health care. Thus if workers are single or married to spouses who similarly lack coverage, the likelihood is high that they will upon occasion turn to emergency rooms for health care, which is an extraordinarily high cost delivery system that comes out of the collective purse.
And listen to this from CEO Lee Scott, quoted in the Financial Times:
I think government is going to be engaged after this election regardless of who wins, and I think business should be more involved in the discussion. I think it has long-term ramifications for our global competitiveness.
Hhhm. Most (read all) of our advanced economy trade partners have more generous public payment for health care. They also have lower current account deficits than we do. While correlation is not causation, tell me why I should believe the reverse is true, that a single payer system would be bad for competitiveness? There seems to be a dearth of evidence to support this view.