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Health Care

Obamacare's Corporate Boosters

Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner speaks to members of the media outside the White House after a meeting with President Obama on Sept. 3

Photograph by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner speaks to members of the media outside the White House after a meeting with President Obama on Sept. 3

You have to give House Republicans credit for this much at least: They’ve been remarkably persistent in their efforts to derail Obamacare. On Tuesday, they announced a proposal for a temporary spending bill intended to force the Senate to vote on whether to fund the Affordable Care Act on the eve of its Oct. 1 rollout. ”The House has voted 40 times to defund, repeal, and change Obamacare,” House Speaker John Boehner told Fox News on Tuesday. “This strategy is intended not to really satisfy the House. We’ve already voted. It enforces the fight in the United States Senate. … Let’s get the issue over there and force them to actually have a vote.”

But as the House GOP continues to push the line that Obamacare is bad for America and bad for business, some of the nation’s largest employers are undermining the message. Bloomberg News reports that General Electric (GE) plans to curtail benefits for some of its retirees and move them into government-run health-care exchanges. More recently, IBM (IBM) and Time Warner (TWX) said they would steer some of their retirees into privately run health-care exchanges. How long will it be before they simply give their employees a yearly check and let them shop for coverage on government-run exchangess?

The point is that health-care costs are too high in the U.S., and some of the country’s most respected companies are using this moment to embrace either Obamacare or some of its key concepts to lower expenses. Once they do, others are are likely to follow—especially after the government exchanges are up and running and any technical glitches have been ironed out. Not everybody is pleased—especially some of the former employees at these companies—but once the corporate world begins taking advantage of the law, it will become more and more difficult for Republican leaders to demand that it be repealed. It’s one thing for them to vex President Obama. But do they want to do the same to GE?

Leonard is a staff writer for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York.

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