Business community not sold on health care repeal

BUSINESS COMMUNITY NOT SOLD ON HEALTH CARE REPEAL…. To hear congressional Republicans tell it, to support American businesses is to support gutting last year’s health care reform law. But do American businesses themselves agree?

To be sure, Republican-friendly lobbying groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business are on board with Republicans’ repeal plans. But the Wall Street Journal notes today that the sentiment is not universal.

The big-company Business Roundtable is quieter: Many of its members doubt the Obama law does enough to restrain costs, but regard repeal as neither practical nor wise. Wal-Mart, for one, echoes this, saying, in effect: We don’t want to go back to where we were.

At the National Business Group on Health, a collection of nearly 300 big employers, President Helen Darling, a former corporate-benefit administrator and Republican Senate staffer, says about executives who call for repeal: “If they really understood it, they wouldn’t.”

“I don’t think we’ll get a better solution in the U.S. in our lifetime” she said. “If it gets repealed, or gutted, we’ll have to start over and we’ll be worse off.”

The piece goes on to note that, from the perspective of a CEO, the Affordable Care Act actually offers a lot to like, including lower costs on employers, tax breaks for small businesses, an eventual end to an expensive “Cobra” program, and a host of ideas intended to slow the unsustainable pace of cost increases.

Indeed, we keep seeing more evidence that, as designed, employers are taking advantage of breaks included in the law that Republicans are eager to gut.

Let’s also not forget the “uncertainty” scourge the GOP has been warning us about, which would be made considerably worse if the Republicans’ repeal campaign had any success.

As Kevin Drum noted a couple of weeks ago, “[I]t really is possible that both the healthcare sector and the business community in general, after they take a look at what kind of chaos might ensue from ad hoc partial defunding, will put some real pressure on Republicans to stand down on this. That would be an interesting turn of events, no?”

The WSJ report added, “Talking about repeal of the health law may be a winning political strategy for Republicans, a rare way to please both workers and business executives. As long as they don’t actually succeed in doing it.”