April 30, 2014

Not News: Health Care Division at Jeffrey Immelt’s GE Hurt by Obamacare

General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt has made nice with President Barack Obama on several occasions. Among other things, he chaired the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which met a grand total of four times in 2011 and 2012 before it was unceremoniously allowed to expire a year later. He fully expected that his company would benefit from its involvement in green energy and its membership in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. He also endeared himself to Team Obama by calling “other U.S. business leaders greedy and mean.”

In more than a minor comeuppance, as well as the latest evidence that business-related news reflecting badly on the Obama administration almost never escapes the business pages and center-right blogs and outlets, Inmelt’s company has seen its medical division hit hard by the onset of Obamacare. Portions of Bloomberg News’s original April 17 report follow the jump.

Note that Bloomberg reporter Richard Clough himself held the bad news until nearly the end of his report, even though he had a pull quote, and that Bloomberg’s headline masks the mixed reality of GE’s reported results (bolds are mine throughout this post):

GE Profit Tops Estimates as Industrial Margins Expand

JeffreyImmeltEcoWide

General Electric Co. (GE) benefited from rising sales of jet engines and oilfield equipment last quarter, helping Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt deliver on his plan to fatten profit margins.

GE’s oil and gas division, the company’s fastest-growing business, is being boosted by the drilling boom pushing U.S. oil and natural gas production to its highest levels in three decades. Engine sales are rising, too, as airlines take delivery of jets leaving Boeing Co. (BA) and Airbus Group NV (AIR) factories at a record clip. Air France-KLM Group (AF) picked GE last quarter to supply engines for 37 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Let’s stop right there. Note that GE is doing well in fossil fuel-based energy, and that its green efforts are apparently so minor in the big picture that they didn’t even merit a mention in Clough’s report.

Continuing, and getting to the punch line:

… Sales in the oil and gas division climbed 27 percent to $4.3 billion. The aviation unit posted a 14 percent gain to $5.8 billion.

Reduced sales of mining equipment contributed to a 14 percent drop in transportation unit revenue to $1.2 billion. Bad weather in the quarter hurt the appliances and lighting division, where sales declined 3 percent to $1.9 billion. Health-care revenue fell 2 percent to $4.2 billion.

“There’s just so damn much going on in the U.S. health-care market right now,” Immelt said, alluding to consolidation in the medical industry and uncertainty caused by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. “We’re not really thinking much about robust growth.”

A week later at a company shareholders’ meeting, Immelt extended his dour assessment of the company’s health-care segment:

A week after General Electric blamed Obamacare for hurting its medical business, the company’s chairman on Wednesday warned that uncertainty in the health care field will persist for much longer.

“I think that there’s still a lot of uncertainty in health care and we’ll just have to see that over time,” warned Jeff Immelt during a shareholders’ meeting in Chicago.

Last week, the firm released financial figures which showed a rise in profits, but a cut in its medical business. That was blamed on companies and hospitals holding back on purchases of GE equipment out of concern over how bad Obamacare will hit their profit margins.

Reuters reported that GE Chief Financial Officer Jeff Bornstein attributed the spending cuts to a “massive structural change” in the U.S. health care market caused by Obamacare.

“I expect that softness to persist into the second quarter,” Bornstein told Reuters.

It’s clear that Immelt’s thoughts extended far beyond the Bornstein’s original second-quarter reference.

So we have an obvious “Obamacare hurting business” story, on which a press interested in a story instead of promoting a leftist agenda would pounce. But naturally, they haven’t.

A search on Immelt’s last name returns four results at the Associated Press’s national site, none of which contain healthcare segment-related news. Politico has nothing. Google News searches on “Immelt Obamacare” (not in quotes) and [Imment "Affordable Care Act"] (typed exactly as indicated between brackets each return fewer than ten results, none of which save the Bloomberg report excerpted above and one Connecticut post reprint of that Bloomberg item are from establishment press outlets. Additionally, Jonatan Fahey’s April 17 report at the AP made no reference to the fall in GE’s healthcare segment revenues, virtually assuring that very few in AP’s subscriber base would even be aware of it.

The failure to report the business fallout from Obamacare is yet another disgraceful element of a virtual press blackout of any kind of bad news relating to the statist healthcare regime.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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