Whole Foods CEO: Obamacare ‘Escape Clause’ Pushes Employees Down To Part-Time Work
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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Whole Foods CEO John Mackey criticized the Affordable Care Act, saying that the “escape clause” incentive to employers will only create a growing class of part-time workers – a shift his company is already making.
Speaking with Fox News on Wednesday, the grocery store chain CEO said that the nearly 80,000 employees at the company have traditionally been self-insured by the company, but new mandates from the president’s signature health care bill will raise its costs and lower employee wages.
“We’ll have to cover things that are expensive that we may not want to cover, that our team members may not want to have covered,” Mackey told Fox News. “That will raise costs, and that will either ultimately … depress wage increases or we’ll have to pass along those costs along to our team members.”
Mackey took aim specifically at the “escape clause” of the bill, saying the incentive for employers is now to increase its part-time staff in order to avoid having to an exorbitant amount for full-time workers.
“That creates the wrong incentives for employers. That creates an incentive to have fewer full-time workers and more part-time workers,” he said. “If all of our competitors are going in that direction then we’ll probably have that same kind of incentive to do the same thing.”
Mackey said that shift is already beginning in Whole Foods itself.
The formerly 75 percent full-time, 25 percent part-time employee gap will decrease to a 70/30 difference. And if costs continue to improve under health care mandates, that shift will continue as well.
Mackey stated that he did like some elements of Obamacare, most notably that the state exchanges helped consolidate more insurance companies to put them in direct competition. However, he rejected the notion that the U.S. health insurance field was a “free market” before the drafting of the ACA. He said the system was already highly regulated, noting that insurance companies were unable to compete across state lines for health insurance.
Mackey said he drafted a 2009 proposal for health care reforms when President Barack Obama reached out to business leaders for suggestions.
“Unfortunately none of those suggestions have been implemented,” he said.
Mackey concluded by stating his support of “Conscious Capitalism,” also the name of his recently released book. He concluded with his support of a more “libertarian,” free-market approach for economic organization.
“I don’t think there’s good reason for the government to take over the entire health care system.”