Mitch McConnell took to the Senate Floor earlier today to go after Democrats for something I’ve mentioned a number of times — that President Obama has touted a health and wellness program run by Safeway that provides financial incentives for employees to maintain healthy behavior, but the Democratic health care bill would actually kill it.
“In fact, during a speech last week to the American Medical Association, the President discussed one particular wellness and prevention program at the Safeway supermarket chain, which has dramatically cut that company’s health care costs and employee premiums. The President even said he’d be open to helping businesses across the nation adopt wellness and prevention programs like the Safeway plan….
“And yet the bill that Democrats are now trying to rush through the Senate would actually ban this program from being copied and implemented by other companies….
“The Safeway program has proven so successful that the company wants to increase its incentives for rewarding health behavior. Unfortunately, current laws restrict it from doing so. But instead of offering legislation that corrects the problem, the so-called reform bill being pushed through the HELP Committee would do the opposite: it would actually prohibit companies from implementing the Safeway program.
“Let me repeat that: The bill that’s currently being pushed through the HELP Committee doesn’t let companies consider an employee’s health status when providing insurance — meaning employers would be banned from rewarding healthy behavior like Safeway does and offering lower premiums to workers who manage their chronic diseases, eliminate high-risk behaviors like smoking, or lose weight. In other words, it would prohibit companies from implementing programs that have been proven to cut health care costs. I thought that was the point of health reform…
There is a danger that this argument gets too far into the weeds, but it’s an important one to make because it demonstrates the fundamental dishonesty in Obama’s declaration that he wants to pursue a non-ideological approach to health care based around what works. Here we have a program that everybody sees as a success, and yet it will be outlawed if Democrats get what they want because liberals believe that fairness is a higher goal. In this case, they think it’s unfair for smokers or overweight Americans to pay more for their health insurance, even though they incur higher health costs, even though the costs get shifted on to the healthy, even though charging them more would encourage them to lose weight and quit smoking, and even though it would save the system money.