Employer mandate would subsidized broken healthcare system

A recent poll shows that 78% of respondents would like to have employers forced to provide health insurance for their employees. Let me see… 78% of people want someone else to pay their insurance bill… Why not their car insurance? Or Home owners insurance? Heck! Why not their mortgage payment?

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

A poll shows that voters from both major political parties overwhelmingly favor requiring employers to provide health insurance to full-time workers or pay into a state fund that would provide insurance, a signal that lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger could receive strong public support if they can agree on such a plan.

The state’s two top Democrats have already proposed a health care overhaul that would require employers to “pay or play” — either provide health insurance or pay the state to do it. Schwarzenegger is set to release his health care reform plan on Monday.

In a Field Poll released today, 78 percent of voters said they support requiring employers to provide insurance for their employees. Also, 76 percent support expanding government programs to cover more of the uninsured, and 75 percent believe part-time workers should be offered health care through a program in which costs are shared by employers, government and individuals.

Why wouldn’t employees want someone else to pay for their health insurance? It’s expensive! But is the problem that health insurance rates are to high or that the cost healthcare providers is too high? Scott Hauge, president of Small Business California gets it right when he eludes to the fact that fixing the system must start with reducing what hospitals and doctors are charging.
While small businesses might agree to pay something, cost savings first must be accomplished in the health care system, said Scott Hauge, president of Small Business California.

“I think the cart is before the horse,” he said. “We have to talk about driving down costs. Small businesses are not willing to pay into the system as it exists right now.”

This issue is reminiscent of the debate over energy deregulation a decade ago. When a deal was finally fleshed out we wound up with a system that restricted what energy companies could charge consumers, but had no control over what wholesale energy producers could charge the energy companies. As a result, you had energy companies paying exponentially more to purchase energy than they were able to charge the end user. And a you recall, things got so bad for the energy companies that Gov. Gray Davis actually borrowed money to buy energy for them to provide to the public.

One of the biggest mistakes made in the energy deregulation deal was that they never addressed the issue of the fundamental cost of energy. And if we are not to repeat history, we must address the fundamental cost of health care before we do anything else.

But rather than fix the broken system, it looks as though Legislative Democrats plan to force employers to subsidize the cost of this broken system.

“You have to have an employer mandate,” said Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, D-Los Angeles. “If you’re going to require an employee to pay for a percentage of the health care, the employer has to do their share.” State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, also has proposed an employer mandate system.

It is incumbent upon those in the legislature who understand that mandating employers to pay into a broken system will only make matters worse to hold the line in this issue and not give in to the media pressure. It would be a huge mistake to simply pass the buck (or rather the bill) on to small business or the taxpayers.