THE BLOG
01/18/2013 07:00 pm ET Updated Mar 20, 2013

John Mackey Obamacare Remarks Off-Target In New Way

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has a lot of opinons about President Barack Obama's health care reform law.

Back in 2009, he wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Obamacare is "socialist." This week, NPR aired an interview in which Mackey said it was "like fascism." Mackey backpedaled pretty quickly in interviews with CBS News and HuffPost Live, where he said Obamacare is "government-controlled health care," which sounds like the same thing as "socialist."

Continuing an effort to make himself understood to Huffington Post readers, Mackey published an op-ed Thursday extolling the virtues of free market capitalism as the solution to America's health care woes. This passage stood out (emphasis added):

I believe that, if the goal is universal health care, our country would be far better served by combining free enterprise capitalism with a strong governmental safety net for our poorest citizens and those with preexisting conditions, helping everyone to be able to buy insurance. This is what Switzerland does and I think we would be much better off copying that system than where we are currently headed in the United States.

The problem with that analysis is that Switzerland's health care system looks an awful lot like Obamacare. ThinkProgress explains:

[P]erhaps Mackey should have studied the Swiss system a little closer before placing it on a pedestal. The European nation's health care scheme requires everybody to purchase health insurance from a private, competitive market, provides Swiss citizens who cannot afford their own coverage with government subsidies, and mandates minimal coverage levels in health plans while limiting how much insurers can profit off of their customers. Obamacare is, in large part, modeled off of that exact system.

The similarities don't end there. But Mackey wasn't all wrong. The Swiss health care system does have some important differences with Obamacare -- namely, a much more tightly regulated private insurance market that, unlike Obamacare, must negotiate its prices and premiums with the government, and employers play close to a non-existent role in providing health benefits for their workers, making the system more efficient.

Whole Foods, ironically, already provides better health benefits to its workers than what most retail employees get.

Anyway, Mackey's not sweating it. During an appearance on MSNBC Friday, Mackey said he doesn't expect the imbroglio to hurt Whole Foods' business. Papa John's and Olive Garden operator Darden Restaurants weren't so lucky.

WATCH: Whole Foods CEO John Mackey on HuffPost Live