Business Community must get behind single-payer health insurance

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So okay. I’ve been a CEO and I know what’s going through your mind. “I don’t want the government involved in anything! Period!" 

I understand. The government does some pretty stupid things.

But remember that the legislators writing the laws are paid to do those stupid things by special interests that want in the taxpayer’s pockets. They drive up government spending, which increases their profits and our taxes, and forces the state to cut employee pay and revenue-sharing and school spending and whatever it takes to retain the cash flow to the special interests that fund their elections.

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Don’t get me wrong, I believe our state and federal government both need a thorough scrubbing to eliminate waste and unneeded departments. But giving away taxpayer dollars is not the correction I would recommend.

It’s getting ridiculous. Satisfying campaign contributors has already trashed our national economy, and has for a long time driven Wisconsin’s personal and business taxes out of sight.

There are two expenses that businesses should not incur, and for exactly the same reason. Taxes and health care (and related administrative costs) are simply passed on to consumers in the price of the product. We taxpayers pay 50 percent more for the mere pleasure of sticking it to corporations.

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Both should be a zero burden on corporations because they make them uncompetitive with those in other countries that are not faced with them. As a result U.S. companies must cut jobs or outsource manufacturing and services. This is absolutely stupid.

Those opposing health care reform are usually insurance industry CEOs and sales brokers, because they are the make-work middlemen pocketing the cash. Unfortunately, many non-insurance executives can’t see the forest through the trees. Their business “partners” from the insurance sector are dipping into their health care wallets, in some cases to make up for losses in other areas like Katrina and the stock market. It is a total waste.

The smartest thing we could do — both as a nation and business community — is to switch to a single-payer Medicare-for-all system of health care. As a Medicare patient and former CEO, I think it’s great. I get sick, I get care and the caregiver gets paid. I go to the same private hospital and physician I have for years; they just send the bill to Medicare instead. I just don’t deal with the insurance company.

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Every U.S. citizen should have this level of care, including politicians. If they want anything outside of the norm, like cosmetic surgery, they can pay for it on the outside the old-fashioned, free-market way, with cash dollars.

A Medicare-for-all system would not only save consumers $400 billion per year; it would save every U.S. corporation $6,500 per employee per year in health care premiums. How’s that for a bailout? But this one isn’t going to just the bankers.

Ask the Big Three how important that is. They now manufacture more cars in Canada because they only pay $800 per employee. And 80 percent of Canadians prefer their health care system to ours, even with their wait times. But since we spend twice what they do, wait times will not be an issue.

So the government has done some pretty stupid things and they’ll continue doing stupid things on health care because the insurance industry has given Congress $46 million in campaign contributions. What else would you expect them to do? Money talks!

That insurance bureaucracy is draining 31 percent of health care costs, money that should instead be spent on physicians, nurses and hospitals. 

Unless the business community steps in and demands a single payer fix we are doomed for years of the same. Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold must pressure Sen. Max Baucus and the Finance Committee to put single-payer on the table, and they must be encouraged to co-sign Sen. Bernie Sanders’ SB703 (the senate version of HR676). Only then can our economy turn around the way it should.

Jack Lohman is a retired business owner from Colgate and publishes He authored "Politicians – Owned and Operated by Corporate America" and can be reached at

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