Small Talk: Healthcare debate heats up

November 9, 2009

The healthcare debate is just starting to heat up for small business owners. FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters sister publication, has a nice blog post titled “Healthcare reform & small business: 3 bills explained,” in which they break down Obama’s “Affordable Health Care for American Act” legislation, that was approved by a slim majority of 220-215 by the House over the weekend.

In general the reaction by small business to the Obama legislation has been largely negative, with the most damning attacks coming from small business lobby groups, the National Federation of Independent Business and the National Small Business Association. In a Wall Street Journal story, titled “Small Business Crunches Numbers“, NFIB senior VP Susan Eckerly said the bill’s “punitive employer mandates and atrocious new taxes will force small business owners to eliminate jobs and freeze expansion plans at a time when our nation’s economy needs small business to thrive.”

Denver Business Journal reporter Kent Hoover examined the bill from a small business perspective in his article “How small business fares under health-reform bill“. In it Hoover said that while the majority of small businesses oppose the legislation, some support it because “they think the insurance market needs the bill’s reforms, such as barring insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions,” wrote Hoover, adding: “Plus, they think providing a government-run option in new health insurance exchanges would bring needed competition to the insurance market.”

Here’s a roundup of how politicians on both sides view the legislation:

– Democratic Congressman Jerry McNerney (Pleasanton, California) voted for the bill, because he explained that “as a former self-employed small business owner, I’ve personally experienced the effect of rising health care costs and the burden these costs place on our families and small businesses.” McNerney added the new legislation will “improve benefits and quality of care for seniors, help small businesses to stay open and operating, and stop insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions or kicking sick people off their plans.” Read McNerney’s full statement here.

– Democratic Congressman Ben Chandler (Versailles, Kentucky) voted against the bill, telling the Lexington Herald-Leader: “I do not believe it is the best course of action for the people of Central Kentucky, specifically our working families, small businesses, and seniors.” Chandler said he was concerned that the new bill “would not adequately protect our rural hospitals and our small businesses — the engines of job creation.” Read Chandler’s full interview here.

– Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner (New York, NY) released his own “Top 10″ list of reasons he voted for the bill, most of them tailored to his New York City constituents. In the Epoch Times story Weiner said the new Act helps small businesses that already provide health insurance, because they “will receive a tax credit over a two-year period, and small businesses with 25 employees or less with wages of less than $40,000 a year will qualify for tax credits up to half the cost of providing insurance.” Weiner added that 204,200 small businesses in NYC will be able to qualify for the tax credits.

– Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia) voted against the bill because, as she told the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, it “will cost well over a trillion dollars, raise taxes on job-creating small businesses and cut nearly $400 billion from Medicare and Medicaid.”


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I own a landcape contracting business and would not be able to pay for mandated health care. Unfortunately I work in a business with low margins but high labor demand. I would not be able to pass on the costs because there are a lot of low cost providers in my industry that will ignore the requirements and find a loophole or pay there laborers in cash. This issue is a big problem in the construction and service industries. The businesses that follow the rules have to carry the burden for those that don’t follow the rules. Why doesn’t the Government go after those companies and individuals that don’t pay there share?

Posted by Jon | Report as abusive

As a small business person I think it is important to have healthy employees. It saves money and improves productivity,performance,profits and creates a positive work environment. To be healthy they need to have access to healthcare. Insurance premiums have increased more than any other busniness cost including fuel,money and taxes. Give small business a tax break, reasonable access to insurance at a reasonalbe cost. Treat healthcare and insurance companies just like the rest of us, expect them to do their part.

Posted by Bill Long | Report as abusive

I think the health care bill is rediculous, particularly considering the cost. The problems with the present health care system, which is the best in the world, can be solved for practically zero cost. Take our present program and add Tort Reform, Portability and address pre existing conditions with the Insurance Companies, and use the cost savings to decrease taxes, thereby creating more jobs and the cost would be more appealing to many uninsureds.

At a time when Obama claims he wants to help small business, this will escalate costs via the new taxes and exacerbate unemployment, because more jobs will be lost.

Are the democrats so in bed with the lawyer’s union that they are knowingly throwing away the country for the sake of their party by acquiring new votes from the newly insured illegal aliens.

A basic course in economics will tell you that Supply Side economics works, not government interference with the economy.

Posted by Neil Thorp | Report as abusive

It is an individual’s issue not a company’s issue. Put the burden where it belongs. Just force individuals to cover their own health insurance just like auto liability insurance. Add a line to the tax form. You either have a valid insurance id or you pay the equivalent tax. Those who do not make enough to pay the tax are required to do community service to cover the cost.
Nobody works the same job for their entire life anymore. If the individual carries the insurance they are always insured. Employers could offer the benefit to set them apart from other companies, but it should not be required.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Good informaiton. Here’s another article that parallels what you said. 2009/11/09/small-talk-healthcare-debate- heats-up/

Posted by Abby Syck | Report as abusive