Letter to the editor: Public option could hurt businesses, workers

To the editor:

New Hampshire businesses strive to provide comprehensive, flexible and affordable healthcare coverage for their employees. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also just makes sense from a business perspective.

After all, healthy employees are happier, more productive and more motivated to excel in the workplace and in their personal lives. As fixed operations director for a multi-franchise automotive group located across New England, I oversee more than 200 dedicated employees, and ensuring they have access to the high-quality coverage they need is a critical part of my job. That is why recent proposals in Congress that would fundamentally reshape our entire healthcare system are deeply concerning to me.

Government-controlled health insurance proposals like the public option or Medicare for all would increase costs, reduce options for small businesses and employees, and undermine healthcare access and delivery.

While I understand the need to improve healthcare in America, this is not the way to do it.

If implemented, the public option would be placed alongside private and employer-sponsored healthcare plans to “compete” in the individual marketplace. I use the term “compete” loosely because private plans would more than likely be unable to compete, as they would not be on a level playing field with the public option.

Eventually, private insurers like the ones we count on to provide our employees with flexible coverage options would begin to exit the marketplace. For the private plans that remain, premiums would be pushed increasingly higher as options continue to dwindle. Eventually, the public option would be the only plan remaining; years of hard work to ensure a diverse array of choices for businesses and employees alike would be wiped away.

Furthermore, a government-controlled healthcare insurance system would be fiscally irresponsible.

The sheer magnitude of such a program is overwhelming; some projections suggest it could grow into the third-largest government program, just after Medicare and Social Security. What’s more, it could require a massive payroll tax increase on hardworking Americans at a time when so many are still struggling to recover from the economic downturn we are still very much in.

The public option could also increase financial burdens on hospitals in New Hampshire and nationwide, a new study found. The study indicated that under a public option, hospitals could face a 60% increase in revenue losses compared to our current system. Again, this couldn’t come at a worse time, especially given the immense pressure local hospitals are under.

New Hampshire hospitals have lost $575 million just from March to July this year. Slashing revenue even further will only threaten their ability to provide quality care for our communities, undermining access and reducing options for patients. Instead of going down this road, lawmakers should focus on practical changes they can make to our current system to expand access, lower costs and improve quality.

Our current healthcare system is not broken beyond repair; it will just take a collaborative effort to ensure it works for all Americans.

Evan Nelson

Categories: Letters to the Editor