Susan Lyon: Attacks on protections for people with pre-existing conditions are putting my business at risk

Susan Lyon

Attacks on protections for people with pre-existing conditions are putting my business at risk and endangering my livelihood, that of my husband, as well as the livelihoods of the nine full-time, professional-level staff we employ at Lyon.

My husband and I started our business 28 years ago, and it’s hard to believe that our future hangs in the balance because one of us is at risk for being denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition.

My husband and I started our business 28 years ago, and it’s hard to believe that our future hangs in the balance because one of us is at risk for being denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition.

One option would be for my husband to take disability for the next decade or so until he is eligible for Medicare. This would not only mean a significant adjustment to our earnings and a cruel blow to my husband’s quality of life; it would shift a productive contributor to the private sector into reliance on state support. However, Republicans in Congress are looking to slash Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security to finance their trillion dollar tax bill. Our ability to access these vital services also hangs in the balance.

Another possibility would be that I would have to step away from our business to find a position with insurance that would cover my husband. Even then, there are no guarantees. Would I find work? Would they cover my husband with his condition? How many hours would I have to work on the side at a Starbucks for us to make ends meet?

The implications for our business are uncertain, and they certainly aren’t positive. We could lose talented employees, lured away by larger corporations with deeper pockets and access to more cost-effective large group plans. We could be forced to downsize if my husband or I have to take extended or permanent time away from the business. It’s not out of the question that we might have to sell or close our firm.

When we first started our business, we both took turns working full time jobs just to have insurance—one person would cover the other while he/she worked on the business. We were forced to do it this way because we needed access to health insurance. This, of course, impacted the trajectory of our business during its inception. The ACA changed all this, and many entrepreneurs were able to take the risk of starting their own business, without sacrificing access to quality, affordable health care.

In light of the attacks on the underpinnings of the ACA—especially attacks on stipulations protecting people like my husband with pre-existing conditions— and with a new appointment to the Supreme Court by President Trump threatening the law, lawmakers must do everything in their power to safeguard insurance for small business owners who need it, especially if they want to see at thriving Main Street.

Susan Lyon is Principal and Managing Director of Lyon & Associates Creative Services, a commercial film production company in Southern California.