Healthcare share

LA Times reports diverse interests coming together on healthcare costs and plans. If MA has found a better formula in the companies of Tufts and Harvard Pilgrim, maybe the rest of the nation can as well.

The National Federation of Independent Business will join AARP, the Service Employees International Union and the Business Roundtable — which represents chief executives of major companies — in an umbrella group called Divided We Fail. The effort is aimed at ensuring that healthcare and retirement security are at the top of the presidential candidates’ domestic agendas next year.

The strange bedfellows are trying to forestall the kind of political polarization that doomed Clinton’s healthcare plan, as well as President Bush’s effort to overhaul Social Security.”What is missing right now is not policy ideas,” said Bill Novelli, CEO of AARP, the senior lobby. “There are lots of policy ideas. What is missing right now is political will.”

The new alliance does not mean that its members are united behind one specific approach to healthcare reform; significant disagreements still divide them. But they do appear to agree on the need for action and — with opinion polls showing widespread support for change — they see their alliance as a vehicle for assuring that its members will have a role in formulating new policies.”

Access to affordable health insurance is the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 issue for small business across the United States,” said Todd Stottlemyer, president of the National Federation of Independent Business. “For us not to be at the table in any serious conversations makes no sense. There really can’t be a national debate about healthcare unless small business has a seat at the table.”

Said Stottlemyer: “We have an obligation to at least actively listen to one another and engage with one another, instead of talking past one another or at one another.”