Health care is hot topic
(The following is a guest editorial from Jan Teague, President And CEO of the Washington Retail Association.)
By Jan Teague
During an interview I watched yesterday with Senator Lisa Brown, the Senate Majority Leader, she spoke about how the Legislature is trying to figure out how to pay for health care inflation.
I reviewed a new Senate bill last week that would raise the state employee health insurance benefit from $768 to $863. State workers also get a nice retirement benefit and generous leave. It’s no wonder that observers say that the unions have done nothing but make government workers out to look like they are taking the taxpayers for a ride.
Inflationary health care costs also impact the Legislature’s efforts to provide services to lower income people, the disabled, seniors, children and others who need health care and can’t afford to pay. The Legislature wants to help them out, but the price tag is so big, it is problematic.
The national debate rages on this week in Congress over finding ways to cover the uninsured across the nation. Controlling the cost of health care has taken a back seat in these discussions. So while we continue to wrestle with covering everyone, the inflationary aspects of health care costs will go unabated.
Eventually, the price of products in general will go up to try and pay for health care inflation. Retailers are resilient and will figure out how to keep prices attractive. This effort will likely mean more goods on the market that were manufactured out of the country. This has certainly been the growing trend in the last twenty years. The services industry won’t have that opportunity, so watch these costs hit your pocketbook.
The Legislature will make its final decisions in the next few days on how to fund their budget. This year we have heard loud and clear that they won’t give up their values. When legislators meet again next year, they will be having these same discussions about their values. And next year will be even tougher for the Legislature to fund their values.
For one thing, health care inflation will be up again and there will
be no Federal bail out money to shore things up.