Small Business Split on Health Care Reform
Just as Republicans and Democrats have cordoned off and retreated to their respective corners lobbing their demands for health care reform at Democratic leadership, small business groups have divided and done the same.
Some small business groups are pro-reform and are teaming up with the Democrats.
John Arensmyer is CEO and Founder of the group Small Business Majority. He says the cost of health care is bankrupting small businesses. “The status quo is absolutely unacceptable and we have to do something,” Arensmeyer said. Arsensmeyer said the current health care proposals are “steps in the right direction” to reduce cost to small businesses by making health care more affordable.
Members of Small Business Majority have attended several press conferences with Democrats on Capitol Hill. But their participation has not yet convinced some conservative Democrats to pledge their support, even though many appeal to the needs of small businesses.
One of those lawmakers holding out support is Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu. She is one of a handful of Democrats opposed to the public option. Though, she did appear at a press conference with pro-reform entrepreneurs, she told reporters it did not persuade her to support the current proposals.
“The goal of this is to give people more affordable choices, not just one government subsidized program, but more affordable choices in the private sector and that‘s what we‘re working towards doing.” Landrieu said.
Landrieu seems to be aligning with the concerns of other small business groups that have expressed concern or opposition to reform proposals.
Karen Kerrigan is the President of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council. She says the House bill would place additional cost burdens on small businesses. “Instead of lowering costs, it raises costs,” Kerrigan says.
Kerrigan points to numerous measures in the House bill she calls “unacceptable.” One is a mandate that forces businesses worth over $500,000 to buy insurance or pay an 8% penalty. Another is the surtax on couples making more than $1 million. The coalition also oppose the public option.
Stephanie Cathcart is the with the National Federation of Independent Business. “The penalties and the surtaxes are specifically going to fund the public option,” Cathcart says.
Both the NFIB and the SBEC have joined with the Chamber of Commerce to create Employers for Healthy Economy. The coalition has released a multi-million dollar ad campaign opposing the health care bill in the House of Representatives.