"Turns out ObamaCare means, if you like your health plan, you can lose it." Rep. Joe Barton, R–Texas, ranking minority member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told me in an e-mail. "The president didn't have to actually strong-arm companies into dumping their employee health insurance because his bill carried financial incentives to virtually guarantee that result. ... I suppose we can't know for some years how many thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of workers will lose their company insurance because of health care reform, but I know that it will be a breach of faith for most of them and a tragedy for some."
Why would companies even consider such a move?
Well, directors of publicly traded companies cannot simply operate as they see fit. They have a fiduciary responsibility to the corporation and the corporation's shareholders. This means that they must do what is best for the corporation and its shareholders in the way they deal with customers, finances and employees.
Just as in chess, rules must be followed: The rook can only move diagonally, and the castle can move only in a straight line.
If you can save a $1 billion, you have to at stop and think. In today's competitive environment, saving money may mean saving a business from bankruptcy or retaining employees.
According to AT&T spokesman Marty Richter, "The information we provided the House Committee does not reflect AT&T's plans but merely reflected the tax and other potential cost impacts to AT&T of the health care legislation. As the new legislation is implemented, we will continue to evaluate, as we do regularly, certain aspects of our health care plans."
If the Democrats did not understand what was in their bill, it makes you question who is writing our laws.
The other option is that they clearly understood what is in the bill, and the long-range implications based on the most likely movements of the other players.
The legislation includes financial incentives for large companies to move employees to insurance exchanges. Understanding the fiduciary requirements of public companies, the administration creates a quandary for them. How might this play out?
If companies follow the financial incentives set up by the Obama plan, people and organizations might be unhappy about being moved to the exchanges. In this scenario, the administration will be all too happy to rush in and fix the problem it created through their legislation -- creating a single-payer, government-controlled system.
Checkmate, as my son would say.
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