Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Yesterday, we brought you a recap of our recent interview with Mike Stock, president and CEO of QualChoice, one of Arkansas’ largest health insurance providers.

A topic of our discussion centered on how the business community is assessing the changes forthcoming in the new health care legislation.

Stock says many questions remain unanswered at this point and businesses are adopting a wait-and-see attitude. However, some firms – such as AT&T, John Deere & Co. and Caterpillar – have already accounted for tax credits they expect to lose related to prescription drug coverage.

From our content partner, The City Wire, Michael Tilley talks with a number of local big businesses in the Fort Smith/Van Buren region. Most expect a negative economic impact, but to what extent they’re unsure.

Cliff Beckham, president and CEO of Van Buren-based USA Truck Inc., said the trucking and logistics company does not extend benefits to retirees and will avoid some of the extra costs on that front. Beckham said the company is in the midst of reviewing what the new law will mean for the trucking company that has financially struggled to survive a national freight recession that began in October 2006.

“There is little doubt in my mind that it will raise costs, but we are not familiar enough with the details yet to speculate as to how and how much,” Beckham said in an e-mail interview.

Officials at Fort Smith-based Baldor Electric Co. also have not determined the financial impact of the new bill, although they anticipate it will add costs for the company.

“We do know, however, that the legislation which passed last week will have a negative effect on our overall health care costs. Health care costs for our company and our employees will increase next year as a result of the new provisions required by the law,” said Tracy Long, Baldor’s vice president-investor relations.

You can read more at this link.