Making a business case for Obamacare
by Kevin Foley
Columnist
August 22, 2013 10:45 PM | 1980 views | 11 11 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I’m a businessman. I have been since I started my company with $3,000 in 1986 and grew it into a multi-million dollar enterprise, which I moved to Georgia 20 years ago.

Gov. Nathan Deal and the Republican-dominated state legislature have it in their power to improve the prospects of small businesses like mine, one of approximately 165,000 Georgia small businesses with 500 or fewer employees. They can start a state-run health insurance exchange and implement Medicaid expansion.

This year I will spend $175,000 to insure my 27 Cobb County-based employees and their families. Were Deal and the legislature to implement a state-run exchange, Georgia officials could negotiate rates with health insurance companies on behalf of the uninsured and small businesses like mine, forcing insurers to compete for our business. New York officials did exactly that and rates next year will be as much as 50 percent lower than 2013 rates.

I could dump my overpriced insurance plan and send my employees to the Georgia exchange, where they would shop for lower-cost policies that fit their needs and I would reimburse them accordingly. Now apply this to Georgia’s other small businesses that insure their employees. The cost savings would permit more hiring, equipment purchases, and so on.

Medicaid expansion, which will cost Georgia nothing in its first three years and just 10 percent thereafter, will create 70,000 health care industry jobs, generate $275 million in tax revenues, and have an annual economic impact of $8 billion annually, according to Dr. Bill Custer, a leading health care economist in Georgia.

So why is something so obviously in the best interests of Georgia’s economy not a priority for Gov. Deal?

Hizzoner’s website completely ignores the economic projections detailed in the study Dr. Custer produced for the Georgia Healthcare Foundation. Instead, the governor offers a tepid tea party-inspired rationale for turning his back on the state’s almost 700,000 uninsured and small businesses.

That’s why Georgia’s business leaders need to help the governor see the light. It happened in Arizona, where Republican Gov. Jan Brewer implemented Medicaid expansion after saying she wouldn’t.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce says it’s waiting for a private, Georgia-based, free-market alternative to the federal plan. That’s not likely to happen, so a state-based public plan that can be implemented immediately is, by far, the best alternative. And what could be more free-market than health insurers competing for business?

The Chamber has taken “no position” on Medicaid expansion, but is monitoring other states. Let’s hope its leaders listen to what their Arizona counterparts are saying:

Arizona Chamber of Commerce CEO Glenn Hamer: “By opting to expand Medicaid, Arizona is positioned to obtain $1.6 billion in federal matching funds in the first year alone, which could help mitigate the effects of (indigent health care), while providing insurance coverage to an estimated additional 240,000 Arizonans.”

Arizona Small Business Association CEO Rick Murray: “While the benefit to underserved Arizonans is obvious, it’s the economic benefit of nearly $2 billion a year pumped into Arizona’s economy that will positively affect every Arizonan and hundreds of Arizona small businesses.”

Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce CEO Julie Pastrick: “The … plan is tremendously important to the business community in rural Arizona … we can not only bolster our essential rural hospitals … we can also begin to reduce the burden borne by Arizona families and business owners due to the growing costs of uncompensated care.”

Georgians are paying a steep price for Deal’s intransigence. Your federal tax dollars are going to Blue States like New York and California to fund their state-run health insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion. Georgia taxpayers are getting nothing in return.

That’s a business proposition that makes no sense, regardless of your politics.

Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, author and writer who lives in Kennesaw.
Comments
(11)
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CobbCoGuy
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August 29, 2013
"This year I will spend $175,000 to insure my 27 Cobb County-based employees and their families."

You're a good guy for providing this benefit to your employees. Hats off!

"...forcing insurers to compete for our business..."

Don't insurers compete for your business now?

"New York officials did exactly that and rates next year will be as much as 50 percent lower than 2013 rates."

The New York plans were already extremely rich plans. Don't use New York as a proxy and expect your healthcare obligation to be lower. Either you haven't done your research or you're trying to mislead.

"I could dump my overpriced insurance plan..."

How do you know it's overpriced? Overpriced compared to what?

"...[my employees] would shop for lower-cost policies [on the exchange] that fit their needs..."

See comment about New York.
Luek
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August 28, 2013
Any government backed plan would be immoral even if it did work. The reason for this is because the only source of revenue the state has in funding such programs is taken by force from the taxpayer base.

Funding should be on a voluntary basis and if not enough revenue is collected in this way to keep the scheme going then it was a bad idea in the first place and should be terminated. All

government is innately evil and should be kept on a short leash as much as possible as the original founders of the US intended.

As George Washington supposedly said about government: “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”

The bigger the government gets with outrageously expensive health care schemes the more it will become the fearful master if it hasn't already.
Eugene Williams
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August 24, 2013
Sir you failed to mention the primary reason many states have decided not to sign up for the massive state Medicaid expansion is the fact the states don’t know if or for how long the government will continue funding the states for this program. Once the states take the government’s “bribe” and implement this expansion then the states will be left with the responsibility of the massive cost of funding this program by themselves or with greatly reduced government subsidies. The government is attempting to basically bribe the states with generous amounts of money now but no guarantee of how many years this subsidy will continue. It is likely many of these states will look foolish (and also with great damage to their balance sheet) once the funding is pulled away or drastically reduced and they realize they have left their citizens with a massive future financial obligation. I thought it was very one sided of you to have left this important/major point out of your opinion. I appreciate the governor watching out for the tax payers in this manner.
Kevin Foley
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August 25, 2013
Mr. Williams - Thank you for your thoughtful response. If you look into the issue, you will find that states can withdraw from the program if the federal government's contribution falls below 90%.

There is a great deal of misinformation pushed by far right fanatics that you should always double check. Thanks for reading.
Guido Sarducci
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August 27, 2013
Well, duh! Tell me Foley, why should a state go into this program knowing that it will eventually have to pull out and regroup, most likely at a signicant cost?

Nobody in his right mind believes the government is going to, or even will have the funds to, subsidize this fiasco for very many years. As the old saying goes, "They are gonna run out of other people's money."

Only an utter fool believes otherwise.
bigguy3906
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August 23, 2013
Wow Foley might save 50 bucks! Here is the Forbes title about Delta's expectations:

Delta Air Lines: Next Year, Our Health Care Costs Will Increase By 'Nearly $100 Million'
Ole Man
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August 23, 2013
Sorry Kevin, the cost will be borne by all tax payers in Georgia. As you know the Federal Government has no money except what is taken from productive workers.
dwigg75
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August 23, 2013
The 10% there after is not a guaranteed 10% and if you know the pattern of our federal gov't has had in the past, Georgia has learned its lesson. Gov. Deal and the legislature are simply protecting us from us footing let's say 50% or 90% of the bill in 10 years. The Feds can promise you one thing and give another like Medicaid. Besides Georgia doesn't want to be enslaved to fund another failed, inefficient program that could fall apart anyways. And as for businesses, this week alone Delta says it will hit them hard and they will be paying an additional $100 million. UPS just cut 15K spouses of employees from their health plan. This doesn't many retailers knocking employees down to 29.5 hours or local governments/colleges cutting employee's health care and hours. Yeah this is good for business, really good for businesses in DC.
Bill Eiacher
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August 23, 2013
Too funny. You are looking to dump your expense for benefits you currently provide and tell your staff to go fend for themselves with a promise you will help with some of the cost. And your current plan is overpriced? Have you shopped around or do you just go with a buddy you know and use it to ask staff to pay more? Isn't there going to be a federal exchange if the states do not take part? Tell them to go there and then go ahead and dump them like you want to do anyway. Oh wait a minute, they will not have those set up!
West Cobb
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August 22, 2013
Maybe its time for you to move your enterprise to New York.
Papermill gal
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August 29, 2013
How about to Montana? You can open up your one percenter house and show the employees how the better half lives.

Oh wait. You're a democrat. How does this work again? You hate one percenters but live like one...
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