The spotlight in the health care debate was pointed on those Americans who lack health insurance.  The figure “thirty-two million uninsured” (the number to which coverage would be extended) was repeated ad nauseum and stories of American citizens, who were struggling in one way or another to navigate within a maze of health insurance maladies and roadblocks, were paraded before us by congressmen eager to vote a giant band-aid into law. (Read here and here for why the health reforms that were passed are unable to truly address the problems with our health care system and then click here and here for what real reform might look like.)  

Brian Calle wrote in the Orange County Register recently about the real costs of Obamacare on large American medical companies. Being concerned about the effects of the health care overhaul on ‘big business’ is not as coldhearted as it may sound. It may not be the in-your-face sob story, but the consequences are real and they too have significant effects on Americans-including those of the thirty-two million figure. (More on the fate of the uninsured, here.)    

One of the selling points of the health care bill was that it would help the economy and save you, the taxpayer, money. However, reality is not always as pretty as the picture painted. Calle writes:

…Two major health care companies, Eli Lilly and Johnson & Johnson, projected slumps in sales because of President Obama’s health care overhaul. Johnson & Johnson said the health care overhaul will cost $400 million to $500 million in sales this year. Drugmaker Eli Lilly announced that Obamacare would clip revenue by about $700 million next year … Numerous other companies released similar data in recent days, and I’d expect more companies to follow suit as first-quarter earnings announcements continue.

The pharmaceutical industry and medical device manufacturers will be hit hard with higher taxes, more fees, and fewer sales. Why should we care about the fates of big pharmaceutical companies? These businesses provide jobs to Americans and, with decreasing revenues; jobs are bound to be cut. Costs imposed on these producers trickle down to the consumers in the form of higher prices for products and services and lower compensation for employees. Tighter restrictions, more regulations, and higher tax rates in the U.S. health care market make it appear less attractive to medical companies-making expanding overseas (or leaving altogether) look increasingly appealing. Calle also warns that U.S. companies will now have less money to invest in research and development (and the jobs that come with it)-the source of cutting edge and, more importantly, life-saving drugs and medical devices.

Calle reminds his readers that demonizing an entire industry is troubling and that our frustrations are often misdirected:

Faceless and nameless to the vast majority of Americans, it is easy for politicians and us taxpayers to forget about the big, bad corporate-types who lead the country by employing tens of millions of Americans. Government now unfortunately overemploys droves of American workers, but innovation and sustainable economic prosperity comes from private sector companies that drive the nation’s job engine. It’s become common for politicians in Washington, Sacramento and all over the country to use demagoguery to demonize the nation’s profit generators, and that is why it is important to hear the other side of the story.

When I began the CEO Solutions series, I did not think, outright, that I was putting corporate executives in a potentially agonizing bind: either speak freely about public policies that are holding back their companies and industries and face potential retaliation from politicians and bureaucrats, or stay silent, implicitly endorsing bad regulations and hope to “play ball” with increasingly overreaching regulatory bodies.

The health care debate has emboldened many executives to speak freely about particular laws that, while perhaps well-intentioned, make things a lot worse for employers and workers alike.