The business community is reeling following Wal-Mart's surprising announcement that it would join a major union to support a controversial proposal to require employers to either provide health insurance to employees or pay into a government fund.
The ever-colorful Neil Trautwein, vice president of the National Retail Federation, tells Fox News yesterday in this video that if Wal-Mart made some sort of back door deal, it may come back to bite the company. Literally.
"If you offer an alligator an arm, chances are it's going to come back for the other arm and both legs, so I just don't think it's a success strategy," he says.
"If the doctors didn't like the managed care companies, wait till they see Wal-Mart's tactics with suppliers," he adds, twisting the knife.
Shrewd business decision or political haymaking on Wal-Mart's part? You decide.
Drug Spending Up, Other Health Spending Down
Meanwhile, on Morning Edition this morning, NPR's Joe Shapiro takes a look at another facet of the health care debate: Whether offering more access to care creates more demand and more cost.
A New England Journal of Medicine report out today says that after the 2006 Medicare drug law passed, people generally spent more on drugs but less on doctors and hospitals.
With one notable exception, Shapiro reports: People who already had good drug coverage and then received more under Medicare spent more.
"There's some over-prescribing of drugs in the elderly," says Harvard University researcher Joseph Newhouse. "The elderly frequently have pillbox after pillbox in their medicine cabinet. Some of these drugs may have side effects that can actually raise costs, in the worst case by precipitating some kind of hospitalization, but in any event precipitating doctors visits and monitoring to see what's going on."
Argentina Doesn't Cry, It Sniffles
With the world carefully monitoring, the H1N1 swine flu virus swings into the Southern Hemisphere and grants Argentina the dubious distinction of third place among countries with the highest death toll.
How has this affected Argentinians' lives? The health minister and traditional tea-sharing are out, but the elections are on.