Following today's bipartisan health care summit, NSBA is pleading with lawmakers to move beyond the rhetoric. Small-business owners across the U.S. have been struggling for years with the rising cost of health care, and need Congress to act now. For small businesses, the bottom line is addressing health care costs—not the intentions, not the proposals and most certainly not the debates.
"Despite its lofty goals, the summit today was more about gaining political points than it was about actually getting something done," stated NSBA President Todd McCracken. "At the end of the day what matters for the 70 million people in this country who work for or run a small businesses is having access to quality, affordable health care."
The cost of health care is no longer just a burden on the small-business owner, it is negatively impacting jobs—something the U.S. can hardly afford. According to the NSBA 2009 Year-End Economic Report, one in every five small-business owners had to reduce their workforce in order to deal with rising health insurance costs.
Small-business owners carry a disproportionate amount of the burden on their shoulders. According to NSBA reports, only 38 percent of all small businesses (those with 0 to 500 employees) are able to offer health insurance. Among the smallest businesses (those with 0 to 4 employees) only 25 percent can offer health insurance. Twenty percent of small businesses are expecting premium increases of 20 percent or more in 2010.
Although the affordability of health insurance for small businesses was a key topic, simply offering the same old proposals—such as NSBA-opposed Association Health Plans—will not bring the kind of reform small businesses deserve. At the very least, Democrats and Republicans ought to be able to agree on some widely-supported items such as improving quality, enhancing pay-for-performance initiatives, improved health IT and addressing medical malpractice.
"Addressing cost must be priority number one," stated NSBA Chair Keith Ashmus of Frantz Ward LLP in Cleveland, Ohio. "Access to care and coverage for the uninsured and those with expensive pre-existing conditions are worthy goals, but they are goals that simply cannot be achieved without controlling costs."
While lawmakers posture over competing visions of perfection, the nonstop parade of increasing health care costs is creating more uninsured and more unemployed. Small businesses deserve quality, affordable health care, and a real commitment from our elected officials to solving the problem.
National Small Business Association