HEALTHCARE: Mid-Market CEOs Look for Fast Relief from Cost and Confusion

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President Trump meets with representatives of PhRMA

President Trump may be facing a repeal and replacement of Obamacare that is more difficult and promises to take longer to unfold than he had assumed before taking office. But mid-market CEOs are very clear about what they want him to do: Press on—and hurry up!

The premium-cost increases, insurers’ woes and other confusion wrought by the Affordable Care Act in the last few years left many mid-market employers frustrated and—since Election Day—urgently awaiting the relief that Donald Trump promised.

Trump indeed must “start over” with a federal approach to healthcare, asserted Eric Casaburi, CEO of Retro Fitness gyms. “It’s like anything else: if your house goes through a flood, you’re better off leveling it versus just tearing it down to the studs. Obamacare is broken.”

“REPEALING OBAMACARE PROMISES TO BE MORE DIFFICULT AND TAKE LONGER THAN HE HAD ASSUMED.”

One reason is “the pain from Obamacare has created such confusion and fear by the insurance providers that they hope for the best but charge for the worst,” said Nick Turner, co-CEO of the recruiting company Kaye/Bassman International. “We were slammed with renewals that were in excess of 40 percent.”

Don Fox, CEO of Firehouse Subs, said that Obamacare “has to change. With meaningful changes, I could be in a better position to offer benefits that are more meaningful to my
employees. And more of them could afford to accept insurance.”

“That’s a big deal for us,” added Jeff Dudan, CEO of AdvantaClean, an environmental-services franchisor. “And it’s even a bigger deal for our franchisees, many of whom are first-time business owners and don’t know how to deal with this.”

David Cobb dismissed concerns that, if the ACA is axed, many Americans will go without insurance. Stopgap measures will be taken, for one thing. “And there already are many
people who are insured in name only, the deductibles are so high,” said the CEO of MMI Outdoor, a military-gear manufacturer. “We had a top-flight insurance plan before [Obamacare] but we had to scale it back because of the massive premium increases. So now our employees have to do partial self-insurance.”

And while candidate Trump said he wanted to preserve Medicare more or less in its present form, Paul Kusserow insisted that President Trump “be careful” not to disrupt Medicare inadvertently. “He’ll have to be careful about this,” said the CEO of Amedisys, a hospice and home-care concern, “because a lot of his constituency is pretty dependent on Medicare and seem to like it the way it is.”

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Dale Buss
Dale Buss is a long-time contributor to Chief Executive, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and other top-flight business publications. He lives in Michigan.

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