WASHINGTON, DC -- Concerned about health care legislation moving through Congress, hundreds of small business owners gathered on Friday, June 23 for a phone briefing with a key administrator of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to discuss what these changes would mean for their businesses.
Andy Slavitt, Senior Advisor, Bipartisan Policy Center and Former Acting Administrator, Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, talked to business owners from across the country about the implications of the Republican health care bills that would repeal the ACA.
“This conversation isn’t just about health care, it’s also a conversation about the economy, jobs, and economic mobility,” said Slavitt, who played a key role in Medicare and Medicaid under President Obama. “Senate Republicans crafted this bill behind closed doors because it’s bad for tens of millions of Americans, and it’s bad for small businesses. If this bill passes, insurance would once again become unaffordable for many small business owners. It ends Medicaid as we know it, and it hits people over 50 the hardest. It means more premiums, much higher deductibles, and fewer benefits for everyone. And state and local tax revenue would decline $48 billion over 5 years, which would have a significant impact on the economy. But this isn’t about being against the bill, it’s about wanting bipartisan progress to come up with a solution.”
The Main Street Alliance, a national network of small business owners, organized the briefing in response to growing concerns that Republican lawmakers are close to passing a disastrous health care plan. Under the ACA, the number of uninsured small business workers dropped by 4.1 million between 2013 and 2015, and by 2015, the number of non-elderly small business workers enrolled in Medicaid totaled more than 6 million. Moreover, premium increases stabilized from year to year. Those gains are now in jeopardy. In addition to slashing Medicaid in order to give wealthy individuals and companies $660 billion in tax cuts, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the GOP’s bills will increase premiums by double digits and throw 23 million people off insurance.
“Small business owners and entrepreneurs consistently say that health care is critical for their business,” said Amanda Ballantyne, National Director of Main Street Alliance. “And by 2014, one in five were buying insurance through the exchange. There’s real alarm that Congress is about to pass a bill that is proven to drive up the cost of health care, perhaps beyond the reach of many small businesses, and yet reduce the quality of care. Their concerns are twofold – that they and their employees could lose their health care, of course, but also that this bill will cause a hit on the economy that leaves them with fewer customers and less prosperous communities.”
Others from across the small business community joined the briefing. As a former official with HHS and the Business Director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, Rhett Buttle spent years working with small businesses to implement the ACA, traveling around the country talking to owners about health care.
“The Senate health care language is not only the wrong direction for our country, it has to potential to be harmful to American small business owners, the self-employed and entrepreneurs. We’ve seen several business owners be helped by the ACA, and we should try to move forward by building off that. We shouldn’t move backward for America’s job creators – which is what this bill would do,” said Rhett Buttle, Principal, Public Private Strategies and Former Director of Private Sector Engagement, US Department of Health & Human Services.
The initial version of this press release misstated the number of small business workers impacted by the ACA; it said 4 million small business owners and more than 6 million small business workers gained insurance for the first time. In fact, the number of uninsured small business workers dropped by 4.1 million between 2013 and 2015, and by 2015, the number of non-elderly small business workers enrolled in Medicaid totaled more than 6 million.