Health Care Reform & the Price of Pizza

A good one from this week's issue of The Week mag.; what I like about The Week is that you get several excerpts from several publications on the same subject in a concise presentation, digest-like.  I've highlighted what I consider the main message in the last paragraph.  What do you think?

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News+Opinion      Talking Points              ‘Obamacare’: The impact on the price of pizza                August 15, 2012

 

President Obama has added a pricey topping to your pizza, said Jeffrey Anderson in WeeklyStandard.com. John Schnatter, CEO and founder of pizza chain Papa John’s, last week warned that unless the president’s health-care law is repealed, he’ll have to hike the price of a large pie by up to 20 cents. That’s because the Affordable Care Act requires companies with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance to their workers or face harsh penalties. Papa John’s has 16,500 employees, most of whom are currently uninsured.

 

“Papa John’s isn’t alone in seeing a price increase in their futures,” said Jonathan Tobin in CommentaryMagazine.com. Other chains, including Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Quiznos, have also said that Obamacare will add up to $30,000 to the annual costs at each restaurant—costs that will all be passed on to customers. Many of those customers are poor.

 

Schnatter is a Romney supporter who’s playing politics with his pizza, said the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger in an editorial. McDonald’s has already said that the cost of Obamacare is no greater than the kind of swings it regularly sees in the prices of meat, potatoes, and other commodities—and those fluctuations don’t substantially affect the sale price of a Big Mac.

 

Even if Obamacare does add an extra 20 cents to a pie, said the Louisville Courier-Journal, that’s a 1 percent increase. What a bargain if it means taxpayers no longer “have to foot the bill when hardworking but uninsured pizza chefs get ill and end up in the hospital.” Two dimes, in return for fast-food workers finally having health insurance: “That’s change we can believe in!”

 

There’s a much larger issue at work here, said Marc Charisse in the Hanover, Pa., Evening Sun. Schnatter has a point when he complains about absorbing the cost of providing health care for his employees. For American companies competing in a globalized economy, soaring health-care costs are a real competitive disadvantage. In the rest of the civilized world, society as a whole pays those costs in single-payer systems that provide high-quality health care to all citizens for about half the price. For now, our system remains deeply flawed. But if paying 20 cents more for pizza means that the “poor guy who delivers my pizza can go to a doctor if he gets sick,” that’s “a step in the right direction.”


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