Maryland Auto Shop Owner Takes Health Care Story to Washington, DC

On March 22, Brian England, the owner of British American Auto Care in Columbia, Maryland, shared the story of how his business is benefiting from the Affordable Care Act at a press event with congressional leaders marking the two-year anniversary of the ACA. Brian offers health coverage for his employees, and saw his premiums go down 6 percent last year thanks to the ACA's 80/20 value for premiums rule.

Here's a copy of Brian's remarks at the event, as prepared for delivery:

Remarks of Brian England, owner of British American Auto Care in Columbia, Maryland
Washington, DC - March 22, 2012

Thank you for the opportunity to be here today and to share what health care reform has meant for our business.

We are a family business, and proud of it – my daughter works at the workshop with us. In fact, Sandi is here today with our grandson Lucas, who will be two soon.

We’re committed to offering insurance coverage to our employees, but over the past ten years it has become a real struggle to keep up with the costs. We’ve become accustomed to rates going up from 10-20 percent each year – sometimes even more – and we’ve had to look at many different ways to deal with the extra expense.

We’ve got a great agent who does a lot of research and works hard to find the best options for us. But in the end, we’re the ones who have to decide what to do – and we’re the ones who foot the bill.

We renew our insurance in August every year, so around June is when I usually start to get nervous. We heard a lot of speculation about how rates were going to go up even more because of health care reform.

When we sat down with our agent, I was bracing myself for the bad news. But when he gave us our quotes, my worry turned to disbelief. Our rates were going DOWN 6 percent! I almost fell off my chair. We had no major changes in our group, the same average age as the year before, the same policy… but our premiums were going down 6 percent.

Premiums going down – this had never happened before, not a single time in all the years we’ve been offering health coverage. On top of this, my agent informed me we were going to receive preventive care in our plan with no co-pays.

The first thing I asked was, “why?” I just couldn’t make sense of it. Our agent explained the rate cut was thanks to the medical loss ratio requirement in the Affordable Care Act. It’s a piece of the law that requires health insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they collect on actual health care costs.

As a small business owner, I’m committed to providing good value to our customers. It seems only fair that we should be able to expect the same from our health insurance companies.

We are so glad that at last something has been done about health care. I want to thank Leader Pelosi for her commitment to health care reform. I know it hasn’t been easy. But it’s making a difference – and every day, more and more small businesses are seeing the benefits.

The health care law is working for my business. It’s working in our community back home. It’s the right thing to do for America and for future generations. It passes this technician’s inspection test with flying colors. Thank you.

Foxes Guarding the Hen House on Health Care? No, Thanks!

Main Street Alliance affiliates are fighting to make sure new state health insurance exchanges are designed to work in the best interest of small businesses, not insurance companies. As part of these efforts, our affiliate in Idaho launched this video highlighting how insurance interests dominate the committees making decisions about health policy in a classic "fox guarding the henhouse" scenario. Click below to watch the video.

Small Business Owners Urge Senate to Amend JOBS Act

Small business leaders in the Main Street Alliance network sent an open letter to U.S. Senators urging them to amend the Jump-start Our Business Start-ups Act that passed the House recently. In the letter, they wrote:

"Rolling back basic transparency rules, like SEC registration, won’t help small businesses. Instead, it will tilt the playing field toward unscrupulous actors who are looking to game the system. That sounds like recreating the same atmosphere that brought about the 2008 financial crisis. We urge you not to do that."

Click here to read the full letter.

Calling New Hampshire small business owners!

Are you a small business owner in New Hampshire? Is your business taking advantage of some of the early benefits of the new health care reform law? If the answer is yes, we want to hear from you!

Did you receive the small business health care tax credit for providing health insurance to your employees last year? Have you seen some stabilization of rates thanks to the new emphasis on reasonable rate increases and a minimum standard of value for premium dollars? Are you seeing better coverage with free preventive services?

If you've received the health care law's small business tax credit or are benefiting from the law in other ways, please contact us to share your story! MSA is currently collecting stories from New Hampshire small business owners - and especially woman small business owners - on this topic. To share your story, email Thank you.

Taking the Pulse of Florida Small Businesses

Florida small business owners participating in a recent survey want large corporations to pay more taxes, believe the foreclosure situation is having a negative impact on their customer base, and support the creation of a new competitive marketplace for purchasing health insurance. These are among the key findings of the report Taking the Pulse of Florida Small Businesses, a report based on a face-to-face survey of small business owners released in Orlando on February 29 by the Community Business Association, Organize Now, and the Main Street Alliance. Click here to read the full report.

Poll: Small Businesses Say Weak Customer Demand, Not Regulations, Their Problem

On February 1, the Main Street Alliance, Small Business Majority, and the American Sustainable Business Council released the results of a national poll of small businesses on regulations and job creation.

The poll found that small business owners’ main concern is weak customer demand, not regulations. When asked what would do the most to create jobs, small business owners’ top response was eliminating incentives to move jobs overseas. Reducing regulation came in fifth place. In fact, most small business owners see government standards as an important tool to level the playing field with big business.

Click here to read the report on the poll results.

Click here to read the related press release with key findings. 

Click here to listen to an interview with Jim Houser (owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland, Oregon and co-chair of the Main Street Alliance of Oregon).








Poll: Small Business Owners Call Access to Credit a Problem, Support Proposals to Boost Economy

The Main Street Alliance, Small Business Majority, and the American Sustainable Business Council released the results of a national poll of small businesses on access to credit and proposals to boost the economy.

Click here to read the report on the poll results.

Click here to read the press release summarizing key findings.

What Do Small Business Owners Want to Hear in the State of the Union Address?

A few days ago, the Main Street Alliance asked small business owners to share what they wanted to hear the President talk about in his upcoming State of the Union address.

We asked: “As a small business owner, what policies would you like to hear the President put forward in the State of the Union Address as part of a vision for supporting small businesses and building an economy that works for the 99 percent in 2012?”

Here are some excerpts from responses we got:


Deborah, owner of a printing and design company in Oregon:

“Help Americans who are having problems with their mortgages – by helping them not lose their homes, they will have more discretionary income to spend and that income can be used to support their local businesses.

“Eliminate tax breaks for large corporations – if they are not keeping their money in the U.S., they should not receive tax breaks.

“And keep on creating jobs – we are a consumer-driven economy and without jobs, Americans do not have money to consume which causes a snowball effect and decreases sales for small businesses.”


Mario, owner of a tax preparation business in Illinois:

“Shine a light on corporate political spending that tilts the playing field against small businesses.”


Bob, owner of a professional training business in Ohio:

“Small and micro businesses do not worry about regulations and taxes. We worry about consumer demand and consumer confidence that promotes business growth. The one percent worry about taxes and regulations so they can play the system to their own advantage.”


Jim, owner of an auto repair shop in Oregon:

“We have so many hard working Americans who can't find jobs. Right here in Portland, many young people are looking for work. They joined the Occupy movement to get some attention for their plight. We have so much work that needs to be done. Teachers need to be rehired, schools and other public buildings need to be upgraded for energy efficiency. And, according to the Wall Street Journal, some of our biggest corporations are hoarding trillions of dollars right now. If they and other wealthy Americans were paying their fair share in taxes, this country would have the money necessary to engage small businesses to hire people into meaningful work, and I would have customers again. When the economy gets back on its feet, then we’ll have the tax revenues needed to pay down our deficit.”


Jose, owner of a real estate agency in Oregon:

“We, small business owners, are an optimistic bunch. We also get right to the point. We need the State of the Union address to set the tone for a great 2012. We do not have a lot of time to complain, as we have to work with the hand we are dealt. The one issue which would bring me more customers and allow me to hire more employees is comprehensive immigration reform. Our housing industry is stalled and motivating a new generation of homebuyers to enter the market will be a big step in the right direction. Our immigration system has to be fixed...let's do it right this time!”


Halcyon, owner of a retail shop in Maine:

“By reducing military spending and ending the wars, we will be able to afford to offer every citizen the basic coverages of health care, increasing job security and mobility, and business formation. We’ll be able to reduce business expenses substantially for Main Street businesses in low population, greying regions of our country – like rural Maine – and make sure fewer of our health care dollars go into the pockets of corporations and more into the delivery of health care.”


Kelly, owner of a custom woodworking business in New Jersey:

“I would like to hear the President talk about 'Real American Companies' and highlight the real contributions they make by employing people here, paying taxes here, and investing here. The President could announce a program to recognize and reward ‘Real American Companies.’ I keep thinking of a heavy machinery company that could build their machines in China, but they don’t. They have kept American jobs – high skill, high paying jobs – here, along with profits and reinvestment, so they should get a business version of the Medal of Freedom.

“This award could include a ‘Presidential Flag’ to be flown outside the corporate headquarters of companies that have won the award. Of course, we could have another award – a corporate turkey award – for companies that cheat on their taxes, move profits and jobs offshore, or manipulate the law in other ways to cheat their employees and the communities that support them.”


Small Business United v. Citizens United

Two years ago on January 21, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling in the controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case. In a divided 5-4 decision, the majority ruled that corporations are free to spend unlimited sums of money in our country’s elections.

There’s been plenty of debate about what this ruling means for our elections and for deep-pocketed special interests. But there’s been virtually no attention paid to what it means for small businesses, or what small business owners think about the Citizens United decision. That is, until now…

On January 18, the Main Street Alliance partnered with allies at the American Sustainable Business Council and Small Business Majority to release results relating to Citizens United from an independent poll of 500 small business owners nationwide. The poll asked small business owners whether they thought the Supreme Court’s decision was good or bad for small businesses.

So, what do small business owners think about Citizens United? Turns out, they’re not big fans. In fact, 66 percent of small business owners believe the Citizens United decision is bad for small businesses, compared to only 9 percent who think it’s good. That’s a margin of 7 to 1. Click here to read the report.

Why such strong condemnation of the Supreme Court’s ruling? In the words of Melanie Collins, owner of Melanie’s Home Childcare in Falmouth, Maine and a leader with the Maine Small Business Coalition and Main Street Alliance, “Small business owners aren’t stupid. We know who wins when corporate heavy hitters can spend all the money they want, as secretively as they want, to influence our country’s elections – and it’s not us.”

Collins added, “The Citizens United decision stacked the deck against small businesses. We’ve got to unstack that deck.”

And that’s what the Main Street Alliance is fighting to do, with an “unstack the deck” sign-on statement for small business owners about money in politics and a campaign against “dark money” – that is, contributions to third party groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that can’t be traced back to the source.

Small business owners are uniting against Citizens United.

January 18: Poll: Supreme Court Citizens United Decision Hurts Small Businesses

Two-thirds of American small business owners believe the controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United v. FEC case handed down two years ago on January 21 hurts small companies, according to an independent national survey of 500 small business owners released on January 18 by the Main Street Alliance, the American Sustainable Business Council, and Small Business Majority.

Click here to download the survey report "Small Businesses Reject Role of Money in Politics; View Citizens United Decision as Bad for Business"

Click here to read the press release from MSA, SBM, and ASBC