Ahead of Hearing, Main Street Alliance Urges Senators to Reject Nomination of Rep. Tom Price for Health and Human Services Secretary

Main Street small business owners oppose Price nomination; warn Senate leaders his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, privatize Medicare and block-grant Medicaid would negatively impact their bottom line.

In advance of Wednesday’s Senate HELP Committee confirmation hearing, Main Street Alliance calls upon the Committee to oppose Mr. Trump’s nominee for HHS Secretary, Representative Tom Price (R-GA). In a letter to the HELP Committee opposing his nomination, Main Street Alliance warns that Rep. Price’s policy agenda would prove particularly harmful for small business owners.

MSA National Director Amanda Ballantyne writes:

“HHS-administered programs, such as the ACA, Medicaid, and Medicare, have provided much-needed relief to small business owners, who have long struggled to obtain affordable, quality coverage in the private market…. Unfortunately, Representative Price’s record on these programs is dismal.

Representative Price is a proponent of radical proposals to cut billions from Medicare, converting it to a voucher which would lose value over time and shift more and more costs onto seniors and people with disabilities. He also supports increasing the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67, which would increase the number of older adults--many of whom are small business retires-- without health care coverage. Furthermore, Representative Price supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a plan that would cause 30 million people to lose their coverage by 2019, including over 4 million business owners; collapse the individual market, and cause premiums for small business owners to skyrocket.  

Beyond the direct health and financial costs to small business owners, Representative Price’s plan to dismantle the current health care system would syphon billions of dollars out of local economies, starve state funding, and under-resource vital programs that small businesses rely on.”

The ripple effects of repealing the ACA and implementing Representative Price’s policy agenda would be far-reaching and disproportionately hinder small business growth. Main Street Alliance urges members of the HELP Committee to oppose the nomination of Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

View the full letter HERE.


Main Street Alliance Small Business Owners Send Letter to OCC Opposing Fintech Lending Charter

The proposed charter would undermine critical state protections and place small businesses at grave financial risk.

Today, Main Street Alliance expressed our concern over Comptroller Thomas Curry’s plan to enact a special purpose charter for fintech companies. Access to safe and affordable capital is a key policy priority for Main Street Alliance business owners.

Below is an excerpt from the letter to Comptroller Curry from MSA National Director, Amanda Ballantyne:

“While the growth of the fintech industry presents new opportunities for overlooked businesses to access capital, it also brings considerable risks. To date, irresponsible, and potentially predatory, lending practices have been documented in the online lending market. For instance, average APRs have hovered around 94%, with rates as high as 358%, according to a study by the Opportunity Fund. Fintech lenders have also included hidden or deceptive prepayment charges, opaqueness in repayment policies, and questionable brokerage practices. Not surprising, a 2016 Federal Reserve study reported exceedingly low satisfaction levels among business owners who used online loans (15%), attributable to the high interest rates and unfavorable payment terms of these loans.  

For small business owners, the potential for fintech companies to inflict serious harm is even more pronounced since many critical federal consumer protection laws do not extend to commercial loans. Consequently, state laws are the primary, and in many cases, only, line of defense against the lending industry.

Robust and comprehensive federal protections are clearly needed to address the current regulatory gaps. However, rather than serve this function, we believe that the proposed charter--in extending bank preemption to fintech companies--would create a more perilous lending environment for small business owners by weakening existing state protections without offering comparable coverage at the national level.”

The letter warns “the OCC’s proposal would endanger small business owners by extending national bank preemption to fintech companies without offering comparable national protections.”

View the full letter HERE.

 


With Disregard for Small Business Impact, House Votes to Move Forward with ACA Repeal Process

Small businesses brace for instability as Congress moves to repeal ACA and gut other health programs.

In a major setback for small business owners and entrepreneurs, the House voted today(227-198) to move forward with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Repealing the health care law would lead to unaffordable premiums, job loss, and budget cuts that would devastate the economy and harm small business growth.   

“Before the Affordable Care Act, annual double-digit insurance premium increases meant instability in our business planning and growth," said Jim Houser, co-owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland, OR and Main Street Alliance Executive Committee Member. "The ACA has stabilized our premium costs, raising our confidence enough to fill more full-time positions. Repealing the ACA will turn full control of health insurance pricing and coverage options back over to the largest insurance companies, and create the kind of instability that makes it challenging for businesses like mine to grow."

The House vote comes just a day after a joint report was released by the Treasury and Department of Health and Human Services finding that one in five marketplace enrollees is a small business owner or is self-employed. Small business owners and self-employed individuals are nearly three times more likely to use the ACA Marketplace to purchase insurance.

"As an entrepreneur and small business owner, I rely on the ACA to provide me and my growing family with affordable health insurance options," said Jeff Beck, owner of East Side Mags in Montclair, New Jersey. "The ACA makes it easier for me to sustain and grow my business because it means I have more funding available for inventory, marketing, and other crucial business expenses.  By repealing the law without a providing a replacement plan Congress is pulling the plug on health insurance coverage for millions of Americans, including myself and my family. And it makes it more challenging for entrepreneurs like myself to start or grow a business."

Without the ACA, small businesses will be vulnerable to price gouging by health insurers, and will no longer have access to the bargaining power, risk pooling, or economies of scale that the ACA created. Costs would increase immediately for every small business that qualifies for the health premium tax credits. The higher cost of coverage for small business owners would mean less money to hire workers, making it harder for employers to add jobs–contributing to an estimated loss of 2.6 million jobs, mostly in the private sector.

Repealing the health care system is a misguided effort that will squash entrepreneurship, stall job growth and have a ripple effect throughout the economy.


Late Night Senate Vote to Begin ACA Repeal Process Causes Concern on Main Street

Republican leadership's plan would send the health markets into a tailspin and cause massive job loss and economic destabilization.

Late last night, Senate Republicans chose to play politics with the lives of more than 30 million people when they passed a budget resolution with instructions to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  A repeal of the health care law could cost nearly 3 million jobs and take away coverage from 30 million people. Small business owners would be left with skyrocketing health care costs, fewer protections or options, and an economy reeling from massive revenue cuts.

“Let’s be clear: rather than focusing on improving and making more efficient  our healthcare system, the Republicans voted to move forward with a plan to destroy the insurance market and leave millions of business owners, their employees and their customers without coverage,” said Amanda Ballantyne, National Director of Main Street Alliance, a national network of small business owners. “Stripping subsidies and removing the individual mandate could lead to the ‘death spiral’ of spiking premiums, dwindling healthy participants, and fewer insurance companies offering coverage. This late-night vote was the first step towards the near collapse of the private insurance market.”

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Maine Small Business Owners Call on Senator Susan Collins to Protect Affordable Care Act

“I can say without a doubt that my family and I are only able to afford decent health care coverage because of the subsidies built into the ACA."

At the headquarters of Zootility Tools, a Portland, Maine-based manufacturer, small business owners shared why they support the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and called on the state’s congressional delegation, especially Senator Susan Collins, to reject efforts by President-elect Trump and congressional Republicans to repeal the law.

Nate Barr, the owner of Zootility, explained how his business depends on his twenty employees having access to affordable health care and that they get it through the ACA.

“Repealing the Affordable Care Act would mean sicker employees, resulting in more work absences, higher health costs, and lower productivity for small business owners like me,” said Barr. “I am asking Senator Collins to do right by the people of Maine and block attempts at repeal.”

The Maine Small Business Coalition presented over two hundred letters to Senator Collins from small business owners across the state asking her to preserve health care reform.

“There are stories here from small business owners across Maine who couldn’t afford to provide their families with affordable health care before the ACA and can now,” said Ikard. “Our representatives are always talking about how they want to help small businesses. Preserving the core of the ACA is a great way to do it.”

Many, like Cathy Walsh, owner of Arabica Coffee in Portland, shared that they depend on the ACA in order to get affordable health care for themselves. “I can say without a doubt that my family and I are only able to afford decent health care coverage because of the subsidies built into the ACA,” said Walsh.

The event comes after a 51-48 vote by the Senate last night to begin the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act. Maine's Senators split their votes with Senator Collins casting a yes vote and Senator King casting a vote against. Senator Collins has publicly stated that any repeal of the health care law should coincide with an immediate replacement policy that would continue to provide health care for individuals currently covered by the law.

According to analysis by the Commonwealth Fund and Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, not only would 95,000 Mainers lose their health care coverage if the ACA is repealed, but repeal would lead to 13,000 Mainers losing their jobs and would take $565 million out of Maine’s economy in 2019 alone.

“Loss of all of that economic activity and all of those jobs would mean less money being spent at local small business like mine.” Barr said.


Trump at Odds with Main Street Over Business Conflicts

Small business owners fear that Mr. Trump will place his own financial gains ahead of the country’s financial and economic health

After promising to address the conflicts of interest presented by his domestic and foreign business dealings, Mr. Trump muddied the waters and sewed further doubt in his ability to govern in the best interest of Main Street Alliance member businesses and conduct himself with the same degree of integrity and propriety.

Amid mounting evidence that his businesses are heavily leveraged to domestic and foreign investors, Mr. Trump appears to be sidestepping the norms of the Presidency that exist to protect the office from inherently unethical individual conflicts of interest. Insisting he is not required to isolate himself from his business interests and that the Emoluments Clause did not apply to him, Mr. Trump rejected calls to divest from his business interests in favor of presenting his interpretation of the law.

“By commingling his business dealings with his duties as the incoming President in a way that no previous president has, Donald Trump is eroding the transparency and fairness we need from government,” said Amanda Ballantyne, National Director for Main Street Alliance, a national small business organization. “Mr. Trump’s outside interests and his heavy leverage to countries we do business with creates significant potential for corruption, abuse of power, and the delegitimization of U.S. authority around the world.”

Mr. Trump’s refusal to establish a blind trust while holding office is unprecedented and stands in direct conflict with his ability to govern in the best interest of small business owners and our customers. His financial ties and contracts held with large corporations put him in direct competition with small business owners, a position no President has held before him.  And in doing so, he failed to ensure the American people and the business community that we can rely on the incoming administration to preserve the economic health and wellbeing of our nation.


Iowans Join Roundtable Discussion on Small Business Impact of ACA Repeal

"It's puzzling that elected officials, who promote themselves as business-friendly, would endorse repeal."

On Tuesday, January 3, as the US Congress convened, a group of Iowans gathered for a roundtable discussion on the devastating effect repeal of the Affordable Care Act would have on small business, seniors, health care providers and, in fact, all citizens. 

The event was held at Palek Studio and Gallery in Des Moines with two additional Iowa Main Street Alliance members speaking:

Mike Draper, owner of Raygun spoke about his experiences after testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee back in 2009.  He discussed access to health care as being a necessity for all and the disaster repealing the ACA would have on small business: from lowering the customer base due to discretionary spending being limited to being able to access affordable insurance policies for business owners.  He finds it puzzling that elected officials, who promote themselves as business-friendly, would endorse repeal.

Claudia Hawkins of Hawkins and Hawkins Consulting related her experiences, including the ability to purchase health insurance through the exchange as a self-employed business owner.  She also touched on the issue of tax credits and the use of Navigators to help guide them through the process.


D.C. Small Businesses Win Big With Paid Leave

This is a game-changer for D.C. small businesses. 

The D.C. small business community scored a huge win today, with the City Council’s final vote of 9-4 to pass the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act (UPLA). This comprehensive paid family and medical leave bill will guarantee about 530,000 business owners and their employees the ability to care for themselves or their loved ones without risking financial ruin. The program will be funded through a nominal employer payroll contribution of 0.62% per employee.

“This is a game-changer for small businesses. This paid family leave program is desperately needed for working families and small businesses alike,” said Ethel Taylor, the owner of the Doggie Washerette in D.C. “As a small business owner, if I'd had access to a program like this when my husband presented with stage 4 cancer, my business would have had the resources and staffing needed to continue to grow. This bill is good business for small businesses and for the District.”

The victory for D.C.’s small business community is a long time coming. For over a year, small business owners have joined advocates in supporting this economy-boosting legislation and rejecting attempts to impose harmful amendments. Most recently, Main Street Alliance members helped defeat an amendment which would have eliminated the insurance pool, shifting the full responsibility for absorbing the cost of employees’ paid leave onto the employer.

“I'm excited that the UPLA passed because it means small businesses like mine can finally get paid leave at an affordable rate,” said Doron Petersan, the owner of Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats and FareWell Diner Bakery Bar, both in D.C. “If signed into law, this bill will help level the playing field for all businesses. Small business owners like me will now be able to proudly offer this benefit alongside big box stores at a reasonable cost.”

Despite this victory, the United States is still one of the only major countries in the world without a national paid family and medical leave program. Congress should follow the lead of California, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and now Washington D.C., and create a federal paid leave standard that supports small business owners and their communities.


D.C. Council Member Evan's Paid Leave Employer Mandate Will Harm Small Businesses

The proposal, which would likely cost thousands of dollars per employee, would be disastrous for small business owners, driving many into financial ruin.

The Main Street Alliance strongly opposes Council Member Jack Evans' amendment to the Universal Paid Leave Act of 2016, which would devastate small business owners struggling to compete with their larger competitors. Rather than relying on a social insurance pool--a model which would enable even the smallest business owners to offer leave for their employees and themselves--Evans' proposal would shift the full responsibility for absorbing the cost of employees’ paid leave on the employer.

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New Jersey Business Owner To D.C. Council: Paid Family Leave Works for Main Street

In a letter addressed to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the City Council, Tony Sandkamp, the owner of Sandkamp Woodworks in Jersey City, explains why D.C.'s small business community needs Universal Paid Family Leave. 

 

Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Mayor Bowser and DC City Council:

I write to you as a successful business owner and member of the Main Street Alliance of New Jersey to urge you to create a paid family leave program in Washington, D.C. along the lines of what we have here in my home state of New Jersey.

I am the owner of Sandkamp Woodworks LLC, a small independent business focusing on custom architectural woodworking, based in Jersey City, New Jersey. Starting a business like mine isn't easy, but New Jersey's paid family leave system really helps entrepreneurs like me get off the ground. Because we are all covered under New Jersey's program, I knew I would be covered if something happened to me and my family, and I could attract top talent and offer benefits comparable to what my employees would get in a big established firm in my industry.

I have had personal experience in using the insurance pool.  With just a handful of full-time, highly trained employees who are difficult to replace, my business suffers financially any time a valued employee leaves.  A few years ago,  my most valuable (and highest paid) employee informed me that his wife was having twins and would need to take time off to care for them.  Without a social insurance pool I could never have afforded to offer these benefits, and would have undoubtedly been at risk of losing him to a larger company, that could have ably provided these benefits.  However, because of the insurance system in place, I was able to offer him this benefit. If I were mandated to provide these benefits out of pocket, I would live in fear of the day that one of my valued employees got sick or injured. Instead, our state system means that I can trust my staff and I are covered, and even for a much more lengthy leave than the DC program proposes to offer.

Yes, this program involves a lot of money and work to get things started. But once it's running I'm sure that you will see that these costs are completely worth it, because this benefit is a huge investment in the businesses of your city and the people who work in them. I urge you to be brave and take this step - I know that when your program is running successfully, countless business owners will thank you for your leadership, and you'll look back and wonder what D.C. ever did without it.

Sincerely,   

Tony Sandkamp
Sandkamp Woodworks LLC

 


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