Category Archives: Obamacare

Whole Foods CEO: Obamacare Is ‘Like Fascism’

via Huffington Post: 

John Mackey Obamacare

Whole Foods founder and CEO John Mackey would like to revise a previous accusation that Obamacare is a form of socialism.

“It’s more like fascism,” Mackey recently told NPR. “In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it — and that’s what’s happening with our health care programs and these reforms.”

Mackey, a libertarian, compared Obamacare to “socialism” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed he penned in 2009. Obamacare would “move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system,” he proclaimed.

Are you a Whole Foods shopper? Does CEO John Mackey’s stance on Obamacare change your perception of the company? Let us know by emailing business-tips@huffingtonpost.com

The op-ed infuriated Whole Foods’ liberal customer base, Time reported at the time.Some customers boycotted the organic food chain in protest, according to ABC.

Whole Foods could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Other CEOs have criticized Obamacare for intervening in the health care market.Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told the Seattle Times last year that although more Americans should have health insurance, “the pressure on small businesses, because of the mandate, is too great.”

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini has said that health insurance premiums could double because of Obamacare. And Cheesecake Factory CEO David Overton said in December that Obamacare “will be very costly” and force most businesses to raise prices or “cheapen their product.”

Some business executives plan to pass higher costs on to employees and customers.

Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter said last year that he plans to raise prices and cut employee hours because of Obamacare. A Wendy’s franchisee in Omaha, Neb. is cutting employee hours in an attempt to sidestep the Obamacare requirement that businesses employing more than 50 workers provide health insurance to full-time employees.

John Mackey

via Business Insider:

Outspoken Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who describes himself as a libertarian, once again addressed the topic of President Obama’s healthcare legislation, which he equated with socialism in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published in 2009.

 

In an interview with NPR’s John Inskeep, pointed out by ThinkProgress, Mackey was asked about his earlier characterization, and responded with this:

Technically speaking, it’s more like fascism. Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it — and that’s what’s happening with our health care programs and these reforms.”

The law’s been controversial, particularly among smaller retailers that will have to provide healthcare benefits to employees for the first time.

Despite his objection to that particular law, Mackey told Inskeep that he sees room to cooperate with the administration on changing the way America eats, saying that Americans are “addicted to sugar, and to fat, and to salt.”

Find the interview at NPR.org
via NPR: 

Whole Foods has more than 300 stores and continues to expand.

Whole Foods has played a key role in propelling organic foods into the mainstream. The specialty supermarket chain has more than 300 stores and plans to continue expanding. But outspoken founder and co-CEO John Mackey is not the crunchy granola liberal one might conjure while perusing aisles of earnestly labeled blue corn chips and gently misted red peppers.

In fact, he’s a self-styled libertarian: a vegan who sells sustainably raised meat, a man who compares the government’s health care overhaul to “fascism” but wants to improve American diets.

And he thinks big businesses have an obligation to change customers’ perception that big corporations are “primarily selfish and greedy.” (Not that he’s opposed to profits. In fact, Whole Foods posted a 49 percent boost in quarterly earnings in November.)

Mackey sat down with Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep to discuss his philosophy and the new book he co-authored, Conscious Capitalism. Part 1 airs Wednesday, Part 2 on Thursday.

Mackey tells Inskeep that companies must have a higher purpose than just making money.

John Mackey is co-CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods Market and co-founder of the nonprofit Conscious Capitalism, Inc.

Whole Foods Market/Courtesy Harvard Business Review Press

For example, when Whole Foods decided it wanted to stop selling overfished species of cod and octopus at its seafood counters, it didn’t just abruptly cut off its suppliers. Instead, the company gave its suppliers three years to come up with a better way of fishing; during that time, the seafood stayed for sale — but with a label of “unsustainable.”

In the end, Whole Foods, working with the Marine Stewardship Council (we’ll have much more on them later), was able to find one supplier of sustainable cod.

“You take a risk when you do that because some of your customers … who don’t care about sustainability, they’re going to go shop at your competitor’s store who has the fish, so you lose some business that way,” Mackey says. “But it was the right thing to do.”

What he doesn’t think is right is President Obama’s health overhaul and the new costs that coverage requirements will place on businesses.

Conscious Capitalism

When Inskeep asks him if he still thinks the health law is a form of socialism, as he’s said before, Mackey responds:

“Technically speaking, it’s more like fascism. Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it — and that’s what’s happening with our health care programs and these reforms.”

Still, Mackey sees room to cooperate with the administration on another front: efforts to reform the American diet, a pet project of first lady Michelle Obama.

“People in America are addicted to sugar, and to fat and to salt,” he says, and as a nation, it’s holding us back. “Food is intensely pleasurable, and people are afraid that if they change the way they eat, they’ll stop having pleasure.”

Still, he acknowledges how hard it can be to stick to a health-conscious diet. Restaurant meals, he says, rarely meet his personal dietary rules — not just no meat, but also no oil or refined flour. Luckily, Mackey jokes, there’s a Whole Foods to be found wherever he travels.

So our question to you, dear readers, is this: How big a role does a business leader’s personal philosophy play in your decision to buy products from his or her company? Tell us in the comments section below.

Hobby Lobby contraception appeal denied

via UPI: 

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 (UPI) — The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked Hobby Lobby’s request for an emergency injunction to block contraceptive insurance coverage requirements.

The court said Wednesday it won’t decide the craft chain’s case — along with Christian bookseller Mardel, both owned by the Green Family of Oklahoma City — before lower courts have ruled.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the stores don’t meet extremely high standards required for an emergency injunction, a document on the Supreme Court’s Web site stated.

“Even without an injunction pending appeal, the applicants may continue their challenge to the regulations in the lower courts. Following a final judgment, they may, if necessary, file a petition” for the Supreme Court to hear the case, she wrote.

The stores have challenged the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s provisions pertaining to certain employer-funded contraception devices and pills that will go into effect Jan. 1.

The suit was assisted by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, The (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman reported.

In November U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton ruled that contraception health laws don’t violate the stores’ owner’s religious beliefs. He said in a ruling on a preliminary injunction the retailers were “secular, for-profit corporations” and didn’t have free-exercise rights under the First Amendment.

Hobby Lobby is the largest non-Catholic-owned business to file a lawsuit against the coverage mandate.

Hobby Lobby Chief Executive Officer David Green, in a statement at the time, said the company is operated “in a manner consistent with biblical principles.” He said he had no moral objection to what he termed “preventive contraception” and would continue to cover those under Hobby Lobby and Mardel health insurance plans.

How A Legal Technicality Could Unravel Obamacare

via Business Insider: 

Obamacare supporters rejoiced in June when the Supreme Court ruled the U.S. could use its taxing authority to mandate that most people buy health insurance.

supreme court obamacare

But their celebrations may have been a bit premature.

The Affordable Care Act faces other legal hurdles—including a challenge that only could have been made after the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The right-leaning Pacific Legal Foundation amended its challenge to the ACA after the Supreme Court upheld the insurance mandate under Congress’ taxing powers.

The group’s challenge turns on the Origination Clause in the U.S. Constitution, which requires that bills for raising revenue start in the House of Representatives.

Problem is, the group argues, Obamacare started in the Senate.

The clause has one loophole that might be Obamacare’s salvation: the Origination Clause doesn’t apply to bills that create specific government programs for which the U.S. is trying to raise revenue.

To argue against applying that loophole, Pacific Legal’s amended filing alleges the tax was instituted to fund general government revenues:

Unlike the program-specific assessment and taxes at issue in Munoz-Flores, Millard, or Nebeker, the tax here is more akin to an income tax, whose revenues go to the general treasury and are used for general Government operations. NFIB, 132 S. Ct. at 2594 (comparing the Affordable Care Act tax to a tax on “earning income”). The tax is paid into the Treasury when individuals file their tax returns, and the amount is based on “such familiar factors as taxable income, number of dependents, and joint filing status.” Id. The requirement to pay is in the Internal Revenue Code and is enforced by the IRS, which “must assess and collect it ‘in the same manner as taxes.’” Id. (quoting the Act).

Of course, it’s not entirely clear whether Pacific Legal will ultimately prevail on this reasoning.

Georgetown Law School Professor Randy Barnett thinks Pacific will be successful, contending the Senate used a “shell bill procedure” to “scoop out” the contents of a House bill and insert its own language.

But that kind of “shell bill procedure” has been used a number of times to enact taxes, Jack Balkin, professor of constitutional law at Yalewrote in The Atlantic.

That tactic even worked in 1986 when the Senate passed sweeping tax reform under Ronald Reagan, he wrote.

The case is currently under consideration in the D.C. District Court.

Private business owner successfully blocks contraceptive mandate in ‘Obamacare’

via Catholic: 

O’Brien Industrial Holdings of St. Louis, which runs the Christy family of companies, has won a larger battle to preserve the firm’s religious integrity. The company is the first private business owner to successfully sue the Obama administration over its contraception mandate, setting a precedent for other faith-based businesses.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – A federal appeals court panel this week has temporarily blocked the “Obamacare” mandate from taking effect against the Missouri business owner, pending the outcome of the appeals process.

Frank O’Brien of O’Brien Industrial Holdings of St. Louis, which runs the Christy family of companies, says his religious beliefs guide the operation of his business. His firm employs 87 people.

On its Web site, the holding company says its mission “is to make our labor a pleasing offering to the Lord while enriching our families and society.” The holding company also operates Christy Catalytics, Christy Industrial Services, Christy Minerals Company, and the Christy Refractories Company.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit granted a motion for a preliminary injunction filed on behalf of the firm.

“By granting our motion, the appeals court blocks the implementation of the HHS mandate and clears the way for our lawsuit to continue – a significant victory for our client,” Francis Manion, Senior Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice says. The center sued on O’Brien’s behalf.

“The order sends a message that the religious beliefs of employers must be respected by the government. We have argued from the beginning that employers like Frank O’Brien must be able to operate their business in a manner consistent with their moral values, not the values of the government. We look forward to this case moving forward and securing the constitutional rights of our client.”

The temporary injunction issued this week is the first decision from an appeals court in the litigation challenging the Health and Human Services mandate, which requires employers to purchase health insurance for their employees that include coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.

A federal district court judge granted the Obama Administration’s motion to dismiss O’Brien’s lawsuit in October. The ACLJ immediately filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, leading to the temporary order issued on Wednesday.

This is a highly significant development, as until O’Brien filed his lawsuit, only religious organizations or institutions had challenged the mandate.

In addition to the O’Brien case, the ACLJ has filed two other direct challenges to the HHS mandate and it has filed amicus briefs backing other challenges in more than a dozen pending cases.

Why The Supreme Court Resurrected A Fight Over Obamacare

via Business Insider: 

The Supreme Court decided today to give Liberty College another chance at challenging two key sections of the health care law — the individual and the employer mandates for insurance coverage.

Stop, health care sign

This ruling doesn’t mean the court agrees with the Virginia university’s arguments.

Rather, the high court is agreeing to give the case another shot in a federal court of appeals.

But why?

The Fourth Circuit ruled the school’s lawsuit was premature because the college was suing over a tax before it had been collected, a violation of the Anti-Injunction Act, Forbes reported.

In March, however, when the Supreme Court ruled to uphold most of the Affordable Care Act, it also said that the Anti-Injunction Act could not prevent challenges to the individual mandate, according to The Hill.

In light of that decision, Liberty asked for the Supreme Court to send its case back down to the federal appeals court so that a new hearing may be held.

The main challengers to the Affordable Care Act, who lost their case in June, argued the insurance mandate violated the section of the Constitution that regulates interstate commerce.

Liberty, which was founded by the late Jerry Fallwell, argued Obamacare also violated its religious freedom because it would require the school to pay for health insurance that funded abortion, the Hill reported.