“Let’s have that conversation”
He’s not afraid to have a debate.
Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini told a group of shareholders that the country ought to have a rational discussion about moving toward a single-payer health care system that would provide health insurance for every American. And he thinks he knows exactly how it could work.
“Single-payer, I think we should have that debate as a nation,” Bertolini said during a private meeting of Aetna employees. The remarks have since been leaked and not denied by Bertolini or Aetna.
Bertolini’s remarks came on the heels of the major news that his company was pulling out of the Obamacare exchanges, making it all the more interesting that he would so succinctly lay out the case for expanding government funded health insurance.
However, in Bertolini’s view, the government should pay for universal health care, letting the insurance companies administer it the way they currently do under private health care and Obamacare.
“If the government wants to pay all the bills, and employers want to stop offering coverage, and we can be there in a public-private partnership to do the work we do today with Medicare and with Medicaid at every state level, we run the Medicaid programs for them, then let’s have that conversation,” he told employees.
Under such a system, private sector employers would no longer have to pay for expensive employee plans, freeing up billions of capital that could go toward higher salaries and more jobs. In that scenario, more employees and better paid employees would put more tax money into the system, helping to pay for the massive costs of any such universal, government funded health care system.
The other big revelation that came from Bertolini’s remarks was the acknowledgment that one way or another, we’re headed to some form of single payer insurance. A number of Republicans have made similar concessions recently, and a new poll found that 40 percent of Trump voters would even back Medicare for all (aka government health care).
“We’re going to pay for it one way or another,” he said. “What we have to do is we have to get the costs right. We have to get people healthy. It’s not about who is paying the bill. It’s about what we’re doing to get the costs down. The Democrats are now saying that with the new Republican bill, wait there is nothing in here about getting costs down. That’s the point. And so that’s the place we’re headed as a company. It’s not just about paying the bills.”