Another CEO speaks out against H.202

John Goodrich of Weidmann voices frustrations

Weidmann Electrical Technologies employs roughly three hundred people in the North East Kingdom. The company, based in Switzerland, manufactures electrical insulation. Weidmann currently provides, in addition to good wages, comprehensive health insurance benefits to its employees.

In an interview on Common Sense Radio, Weidmann CEO John Goodrich aired some of his companies serious concerns with the single payer health care bill, H.202.

“I have the potential opportunity to say to my employees,” said Goodrich, “if this passes, well folks, we have two choices. One: you can pay about what we’re paying now for the plan we have, yet you’ll have fewer services and fewer benefits out of the plan that’s likely to be offered. Or, two: We can pay for the plan we have now by supplementing what the state might offer in the end. Therefore, it is going to increase our cost of doing business, and, therefore. we’re gong to be less competitive. We may not be able to keep everybody on if that were to happen.”

Goodrich’s voice adds to a growing chorus of business leaders, including those from IBM, Dealer.com, General Electric, with grave reservations about what the legislature is doing.

“When legislation is passed to authorize this health care approach, without saying how the costs are going to be raised, or how the funding mechanism is going to work, it seems to me to be a case of the cart coming before the horse,” said Goodrich.

Companies that self-insure under federal ERISA laws, and these are some of the states largest and highest paying employers, are worried that, if single payer passes, they will have to pay for health care twice. “It’s pretty clear that… the intent is likely a payroll tax on everybody to support this, and I think there’s very little consideration given to fact that companies who may be doing a very good job with [providing health care] — encouraging individual responsibility and controlling costs in responsible way – are really being shut out of this process.”

They are also worried that the legislators pushing this program haven’t really thought the matter through. For example, Goodrich asked, “We have people on the Connecticut River on our side of the state who use … health care professional services on the other side of the river. How will that work? What do I tell my employees?”

Unable to attend formal testimony before the Senate Health & Welfare Committee, Goodrich sent a letter to the committee, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and all the representatives and senators in the region Weidmann does business. Only one responded, and she (Rep. Kitty Toll, D-Danville) simply said she was supporting the bill.

Asked what his solution for Vermont’s health care woes might be, Goodrich cited the need for more competition between providers. “An important ingredient missing in Vermont today is competition…. The focus on a single payer system is, I think, absolutely the wrong direction in the long run to get better quality and better cost control.”

Without doing more to control our costs in a way that is competitive over the long run, we are not able to sustain our jobs…. I think [the single payer model] takes away the management prerogative of any business leader who needs to be able to be flexible enough decisions that are appropriate at the time for different businesses.”

In conclusion, Goodrich said, “Government is big enough. We need to really focus on controlling that and making Vermont once again an attractive place to employ our people, rather than have the highest out-migration rate of all fifty states.”