Republican Senator Claims That Healthcare Reform Will Hurt Employers’ “Wellness Efforts”
Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell said on Sunday that healthcare proposals being “kicked around in Congress” are discouraging wellness efforts made by private companies to help meet the health care needs of their employees.
McConnell appeared on Meet The Press after host David Gregory had interviewed Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius about healthcare reform and its cost.
During the interview McConnell maintained that the U.S. has “quality healthcare right now.” Gregory shelled out some statistics reminding McConnell that currently there are 47 million Americans without health insurance and that experts on the issue have written about the myth that the U.S.’ healthcare system is “the best in the world.”
But McConnell remained steadfast on the idea that Obama’s proposals will not address what’s wrong with healthcare in America. He said that the government’s healthcare proposals are unnecessary because employers are already trying to address the issue at the workplace. McConnell cited the grocery chain Safeway and the steps it is taking to promote “wellness.”
“Through their own efforts, they’ve targeted the five biggest categories of preventable disease: smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and lack of exercise,” McConnell said. “They’ve ‘incentivized’ their employees to improve their personal behaviors in all of those areas and they’ve cap their costs.”
But Gregory failed to follow McConnell’s statement with a question about what are those same employers doing, beyond these “wellness efforts,” to provide employees with the medical care they and their families need if they’re diagnosed with an illness.
McConnell maintained that the cost of Obama’s healthcare reform efforts will drive the federal deficit through the roof. He said that he opposes the healthcare proposal, sponsored by Senators Ted Kennedy and Christopher Dodd. “This is a bill that shouldn’t pass at any point,” McConnell said. “What we really need to come up with is a really bipartisan proposal…I don’t think this particular measure out to pass either the House or the Senate because is not good for the country.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had earlier said that President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform efforts will not add to the federal deficit and that Democrats are looking into cutting any unnecessary costs that would be incurred by the implementation of a final bill.
“First of all, I think it’s clear that [a healthcare bill] will bring down cost to a degree, it won’t do enough to bring cost down over time and we will incorporate that, but I think you got to start from ground zero, which is that the status quo is absolutely unsustainable….we’re paying more and getting less,” Sebelius told David Gregory during an interview at Meet The Press. “Right now the insurance companies pick and choose who gets the benefits and what care.”
According to a Congressional Budget Office estimate, healthcare reform may end up costing $600 billion and raise the federal deficit to $2 trillion this year. Republicans have opposed such spending saying that under the current recession, raising taxes to pay for a new healthcare initiative will cost jobs.
Keeping the cost down is one of the aims of those working on the health care proposals and there is no final bill yet that can be brought to a vote until all options have been looked at, Sebelius said.