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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Corporate leaders are warming up to the idea of government-led efforts to control health care costs — a major shift for the historically conservative, anti-regulation business world. 

Why it matters: Businesses’ health care costs continue to climb, year after year. If they’re actually ready to turn to the government for help, the health care industry will have a much harder time fending off new regulations.

Details: KFF, along with the Purchaser Business Group on Health and supported by the West Health Institute, surveyed corporate leaders from 300 private employers, all with at least 5,000 workers. The survey included 40 CEOs.

  • 87% of the corporate officers we surveyed said they believe the cost of health benefits will become unsustainable over the next 5-10 years, and 85% said the government needs to take on a bigger role in controlling costs and providing coverage.
  • 78% expressed some level of support for government action on hospital prices, in areas where there is limited competition. And perhaps more significantly, coming from what has always been an anti-regulatory crowd, less than 5% opposed such regulations.
  • The numbers were similar for government limits on drug prices.
  • 65% expressed some level of support for a public insurance option for their workers, and a large majority also supported lowering the age for Medicare eligibility.

Between the lines: As America emerges from the pandemic, health spending is likely to pick back up, saddling employers once again with ever-rising premiums.

  • Corporate leaders said they will continue to pursue value-based payments, shift more costs to their employees, and do all the other things they’ve been doing for years to try to control their health costs.
  • But those measures haven’t delivered very strong results. Even the largest employers have found that they don't have the market clout to control their costs on their own.

What we’re watching: Corporate America is getting more overtly political on a host of issues, but corporate America has talked a big game about health costs for decades while never supporting legislation to control those costs. 

  • Whether big businesses will put real lobbying and advocacy energy into health care legislation remains an open question.

The bottom line: Congress listens to CEO’s. If they add their weight to legislative debates about health costs, it could make a real difference — and they seem increasingly inclined to do so.

Go deeper.

Go deeper

LGBTQ patients report bad experiences with health care providers

Expand chart
Adapted from a KFF report; Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios

Over a third of LGBTQ Americans say they've had a negative experience with a health care provider over the past two years, according to KFF survey research.

Why it matters: These findings, especially when coupled with the pandemic, should be a wake-up call about another big disparity in how the health care system treats different patients.

Business travel might be going out of style

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Companies have made it a year and a half mostly without traveling for work — and now more and more of them are considering dramatically reducing business travel to slash costs and cut carbon emissions.

Why it matters: Business travel is a massive part of the global economy — with trillions of dollars and millions of jobs at airlines, hotels and travel agencies hinging on its return.

California wildfire explodes in size, destroys historic town

Battalion Chief Sergio Mora looks on as the Dixie fire burns through downtown Greenville, Calif. on Aug. 4, 2021. Photo: Josh EdelsonAFP via Getty Images

The small Sierra town of Greenville, California, was heavily damaged on Wednesday night into early Thursday as the Dixie Fire surged northward amid high winds, extremely dry air and hot temperatures.

The latest: The Dixie Fire, California's biggest blaze, continued to threaten communities in Plumas County into Thursday night, as more mandatory evacuation orders were issued in the region.