Corporate giants like Verizon, JPMorgan, General Electric and Wal-Mart are lining up in opposition to the inclusion of a public option in healthcare reform legislation now under consideration in the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Business Roundtable, comprised of large companies that in aggregate employ more than 12 million Americans, accuse the federal government of inefficiency and charge that it would underpay healthcare providers. Additionally, the Business Roundtable claims that a public option will increase prices for private insurers and employers.
By contrast, President Barack Obama believes that a government alternative will force private insurers to offer more competitive pricing. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said his bill includes a public option that is an alternative to policies sold by private insurers. States will have the ability to opt out from offering the plan.
“A public plan would neither manage cost nor encourage innovation,” said Antonio Perez, chief executive of Eastman Kodak and head of the Business Roundtable’s healthcare group. “We believe it is the wrong direction for fixing our healthcare system.” Other business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring national television ads in seven states opposing the public option. The chamber prefers a national exchange “with an Orbitz-like website” that compares deals offered by various private providers.