26 Jan 2017 Walgreens Vows to Work with Trump Administration on New Health Care Plan
A Promoter of the Affordable Care Act, Pharmaceutical Giant Indicates Willingness to Assist New White House Team in Repeal and Replacement of ObamaCare
National Center for Public Policy Research Seeks Commitment from Walgreens Regarding Employee Health Insurance Costs Caught up In ObamaCare Wake
New York, NY / Washington, D.C. – At today’s annual meeting of Walgreens Boots Alliance shareholders, responding to a question from the National Center for Public Policy Research, Walgreens Executive Chairman James Skinner indicated the pharmaceutical giant is willing to work with the Trump Administration in efforts to repeal and replace ObamaCare with a free market alternative. Skinner, however, refused to discuss specific ways the company might be willing to help bring about reform in the health care industry.
“Walgreens says it wants to work with President Trump, but its executives were evasive about what the company could offer. Leading from behind was a strategy for the previous administration. The new leadership in the White House is looking for quick and decisive action, and Walgreens owes it to their employees and the communities it serves to come to the table with plans to help reform the government’s broken health care infrastructure,” said National Center General Counsel and Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq., who attended today’s meeting in New York City and questioned the Walgreens leadership.
At the meeting, Danhof asked:
When former President Obama sought assistance with his health care law, Walgreens partnered with the administration to promote ObamaCare and its exchanges. Largely unpopular, ObamaCare proved to be a failure as premiums skyrocketed, large insurers took massive taxpayer bailouts and many insurers left the exchanges altogether.
The current political climate offers a unique chance for both private industry and health care consumers. President Trump has vowed to repeal and replace ObamaCare with a more patient-centric approach that provides greater options and relies on market forces to control prices…
[W]ill Walgreens work with the Trump Administration to promote its health care agenda as it did with the Obama Administration, and what specific reforms would you suggest to the new president?
“While the response from Walgreens leaders lacked specifics, I am encouraged the company seems willing to move on from ObamaCare,” said Danhof. “By promoting ObamaCare, Walgreens contributed to the vast destruction it caused. Millions of Americans who lost their doctors and insurance plans are right to blame corporations such as Walgreens for supporting former President Obama’s top-down health care scheme. If Walgreens is sincere about its willingness to work with the Trump Administration, I hope its leaders will quickly lay out a clear vision of what reforms would be best for health care consumers.”
At today’s meeting, Danhof also asked about the future of Walgreens employees’ health insurance needs. Beginning in 2014, Walgreens dropped 160,000 employees from its private health insurance plans and directed them to enroll in a health care exchange. It was reported that this move was done, in part, because of high ObamaCare compliance costs. This shifted the burden of potentially higher future health-related insurance costs from the company to its employees. While Walgreens apparently covered these costs in 2014, it is unclear what the company plans to do going forward.
In light of this, Danhof asked:
Walgreens’ greatest asset is its employees. And unless their compensation will continue to increase to cover rising health care costs, Walgreens will have done harm to its greatest advocates. As the public face of the company, these are some of the same employees that the company tasked with promoting ObamaCare…
[I]n 2014, Walgreens provided its employees with funds to cover the costs of their new health care plans. Will you commit to continue this practice going forward?
Walgreens Executive Chairman Skinner responded that the company would do what was necessary to take care of its employees.
“If I were a Walgreens employee, I would be less than thrilled with Skinner’s response to my question,” said Danhof. “There is great uncertainty regarding the future costs of health care services and health insurance. This would be a large burden for its employees to bear.”
“Following the meeting,” Danhof added, “Walgreens spokesman Michael Polzin informed me that the company has continued to subsidize the employees’ health insurance plans at the same rate as before. He also confirmed that, going forward, the company has every intention of maintaining the same subsidy percentages.”
The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. Since 2014, National Center representatives have participated in 89 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues. Today’s Walgreens meeting marks the National Center’s first shareholder meeting of 2017.
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