As part of National Small Business Week (June 17-21), small business owners from across the Main Street Alliance network are speaking out on the top issues facing the nation.
Each day during Small Business Week, we're releasing a new "Straight Talk on Main Street" issue fact sheet providing unique small business perspective and analysis, on the following schedule:
- Monday - IMMIGRATION REFORM: Immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship strengthens consumer demand, boosts economy
- Tuesday - TAX FAIRNESS: Ending offshore tax dodging will level playing field for small business
- Wednesday - HEALTH CARE: Small business owners preparing for full implementation of health care reform
- Thursday - ECONOMY-BOOSTING JOBS: Small business engagement critical to growing momentum on Paid Sick Days
- Friday - MONEY IN POLITICS: Small businesses seek greater disclosure of secret political spending by corporations and trade associations
This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. Main Street Alliance business leaders celebrated the decision, saying they're already benefiting from the ACA and the court ruling means they can look forward to more benefits going forward.
The Main Street Alliance released the following statements from small business owners in response to the Court’s decision:
John Costin, owner of Veneer Services Unlimited in Kennebunk, ME and a leader with the Maine Small Business Coalition:
“This is a good day for small businesses across America. Small business owners knew we couldn’t afford to go back to the nightmare scenario that health care was for us before reform. The Supreme Court’s decision means we won’t have to. Instead, we can keep looking forward.
“Provisions of the Affordable Care Act – from rate review to the value for premiums rule to the guarantee that there’s somewhere to go for coverage even if you have a pre-existing condition – are already making a difference for small businesses, and there’s more to look forward to. Now that the court case is behind us, it's time to put politics aside and get down to implementing the law to maximize the benefits for small businesses.”
Jody Hall, owner of Cupcake Royale in Seattle, WA and leader with the Main Street Alliance of Washington:
“The Affordable Care Act is already taking critical steps to lower costs and bring affordable, good quality health coverage within reach for small businesses. The Court’s decision reaffirms what small business owners like me have been saying all along: we need to keep building on the ACA, not repeal it. I may be a risk taker, but that’s a risk I can’t afford to take. I can’t afford to go back to the broken health insurance marketplace that gave us rate hikes of 20, 30, and 40 percent a year.
“Now that the Court has confirmed the law is constitutional, it’s time to move forward with implementing it and taking full advantage of the opportunities it creates to lower health care costs and level the playing field for small businesses. That will allow business owners like me to focus on what we do best – things like creating jobs and serving up great value to customers.”
Jim Houser, owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland, OR, co-chair of the Main Street Alliance of Oregon, and MSA national executive committee member:
“I joined the fight for health care reform because I knew from painful experience that the insurance companies weren't meeting the needs of small businesses. After nearly 10 years of double-digit premium increases, the ACA provided my small business over $12,000 a year in tax credits, a 3 percent drop in premiums, and made it possible for my two adult children to rejoin our health plan.
“I saw the campaign to reform health care in this country as an investment in the success of my small business. The Court’s decision to affirm the ACA makes this a great day for America and for America’s small businesses.”
Kelly Conklin, owner of Foley-Waite Associates architectural woodworking in Bloomfield, NJ and MSA national executive committee member:
“By turning back a baseless, politically motivated challenge to the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court demonstrated today the judicial independence all Americans expect of our highest court. Now the hard work of implementation begins in earnest.
“Hopefully, obstructionists have gotten the message and will either put their shoulders to the wheel and work in good faith to make our health care system the best in the world, or stand aside and let the rest of us get on with it. The future health and profitability of the small business community, among other things, depends on it.”
Melanie Collins, owner of Melanie’s Home Childcare in Falmouth, ME and a leader with the Maine Small Business Coalition:
“I’m hugely relieved the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. Because of the ACA, for the first time in 22 straight years of buying health insurance for myself, my premiums did not go up. I was able to keep my health insurance and increase my employee hours. Without the ACA preventing my premiums from skyrocketing, I would have been forced to cut employee hours and my family would have to go without health insurance.
“We're barely getting by. We can't afford the financial and health costs of giving control of our health care back to the insurance companies. The Supreme Court was right in upholding the ACA, which by law makes sure everyone has health coverage that is affordable, and ensures everyone pays their fair share.”
Helen Dally, whose parents own an auto repair shop in Oregon, spoke at a press conference on March 27 outside the Supreme Court, sharing how the Affordable Care Act is helping her get health coverage and helping her family’s business. Her parents’ auto shop is benefiting from lower premiums and a new tax credit thanks to the ACA, calling into question a challenge to the health law from a group that claims to be “the voice of small business.”
“The Affordable Care Act has thrown my parents’ business a lifeline,” Dally said. “Last year, instead of a double digit increase, their premiums went DOWN 3 percent. Plus, they qualified for the ACA’s small business tax credit – and got a credit of $12,900. My dad says the Affordable Care Act is ‘like a time machine’– rewinding their health insurance costs to what they paid in 2007.”
“The Supreme Court should protect these benefits and uphold the law,” Dally added. “As my parents say, we can’t afford to go back to a system that stacks the deck against small businesses. We’ve got to move forward. By upholding the law, the Court will allow small business owners to focus on what they do best – things like fixing cars and creating jobs – and it will allow their children, like me, to pursue our dreams.”
** SMALL BUSINESS MEDIA AVAILABILITY FOR SUPREME COURT ORAL ARGUMENTS **
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 26, 2012
CONTACT: Rachel Tardiff, Rachel[at]Fitzgibbonmedia.com, 202-746-1507
AUTO MECHANICS TO SUPREME COURT: “THE ACA PASSES OUR INSPECTION – NFIB DOESN’T SPEAK FOR US”
Auto shop owners illustrate small business benefits of health law, presenting sharp counterpoint to NFIB plaintiff (also an auto shop owner) who closed her business and filed bankruptcy with unpaid medical bills
** Auto shop owners from Maine, Maryland, Oregon and Washington available for interviews **
Washington, DC – The owners of small auto repair shops from coast to coast have a message for the Supreme Court as it hears oral arguments, including a challenge from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), on the Affordable Care Act this week. The mechanics’ message: “The health care law passes our inspection with flying colors, so when NFIB argues against it, remember this: NFIB doesn’t speak for us.”
Auto shop owners from across the country can speak to concrete benefits they’re getting from the Affordable Care Act. Examples include the small business health care tax credit, reduced rates thanks to the 80/20 value for premiums rule, and health coverage from a pre-existing condition insurance plan.
In a blow to the NFIB’s case, recent reports broke the news that its lead plaintiff, an auto shop owner from Florida, was forced to close her business and file for bankruptcy last year with thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills. Further complicating NFIB’s claim to represent non-partisan small business interests before the Court, a December op-ed in the Wall Street Journal revealed that the Karl Rove-connected Crossroads groups contributed $3.7 million to NFIB in 2010, the same year it joined the lawsuit against the ACA.
Auto shop owners available for interviews on the ACA, the Supreme Court, and NFIB include:
Jim Houser, owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland, Oregon. Jim’s business is benefiting from the ACA’s small business health care tax credit. Jim said:
“We thought we were going to qualify for a credit of about $5,000. Well, we were in for a surprise. When we ran the final numbers, we received a credit of almost $13,000! This health care tax credit and the Affordable Care Act are like a time machine, rolling our health care costs back to what they were years ago.”
Brian England, owner of British American Auto Care in Columbia, Maryland. Brian saw his premiums go down for the first time in memory thanks to the ACA’s 80/20 value for premiums rule. Brian said:
“When we sat down with our agent, I was bracing myself for 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. 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 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.”
Laura Waite, owner of Jay’s Professional Automotive in Renton, Washington. Laura was denied coverage for a pre-existing condition, but she’s getting the care she needs and still doing what she loves thanks to the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan. Laura said:
“When I got that rejection letter, the thought that kept going through my head was that we’d have to close our business and find jobs with health insurance. It was a devastating thought. Then I found out about the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan. I signed up. I’ve since learned that my psoriasis has led to other conditions that need treatment. I’m getting the care I need, and my husband and I are still doing what we love.”
Don Orange, owner of Hoesly ECO Auto & Tire in Vancouver, Washington. Don is happy to see his state of Washington moving forward to implement a state insurance exchange for small businesses. Don said:
“We’ve got to keep moving forward on health care. This is no time to throw it into reverse. These insurance exchanges are going to give small businesses better choices and more bargaining power. I don’t want that taken away.
“For a long time, I couldn’t figure why a group like NFIB would want to put small business owners back in the nightmare scenario health care was for us before the new law. Then I heard about the millions of dollars they got from Karl Rove’s Crossroads groups. Is it the National Federation of Independent Business, or the National Federation of Karl Rove?”
David White, owner of MDI Imported Car Service in Bar Harbor, Maine. David has seen first-hand how rising costs crippled small businesses before health care reform. Back in the early 2000s, faced with a 50 percent hike in his health premiums, he had to do three things: increase employee cost-sharing, raise his prices, and lay off one person for six months. David said:
“Thanks to the payment reforms and the insurance exchanges of the Affordable Care Act, I have peace of mind knowing that I won’t lose my business or my employees because of mounting health care costs. My business, like the dollar and the economy as a whole, runs on confidence; and that’s what the ACA provides me.”
The Main Street Alliance is a national network of state-based small business coalitions. MSA creates opportunities for small business owners to speak for themselves on issues that impact their businesses and local economies. www.mainstreetalliance.org
This week, the Affordable Care Act – the new health care law – goes before the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s a good time to ask: “Is the new law making a dent? Is it helping fix small businesses’ rough ride with health care?” We talked to a crew that knows a thing or two about dents and fixing rides: auto mechanics. These auto shop owners are seeing concrete benefits from the new law. They give the ACA a green light on inspection.
The fact sheet below includes stories and quotes from auto shop owners Jim Houser (Hawthorne Auto Clinic, Portland, Oregon), Brian England (British American Auto Care, Columbia, Maryland), Laura Waite (Jay's Professional Automotive, Renton, Washington), and David White (MDI Imported Car Service, Bar Harbor, Maine).
Read the fact sheet:
AUTO SHOP OWNERS DELIVER VERDICT ON HEALTH LAW: “IT PASSES INSPECTION”
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.
New research released today re-confirms two key points that small business owners who've been fighting for health care reform knew all along:
- First, that employer health coverage has been on the decline for the last decade, and small businesses have been feeling the squeeze more than anyone.
- And second, that provisions of the Affordable Care Act are going to bring health coverage within reach for a lot of small business owners who want to offer coverage but haven't been able to.
This second point is real good news for small businesses, and it comes in an Urban Institute report released today by the non-partisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (it's refreshing to see some real research after the circus show over the controversial McKinsey & Co. "study" that has been thoroughly debunked over the past week).
The Urban Institute study forecasts that insurance offer rates for firms with 100 or fewer employees will increase by nearly 10 percent thanks to the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges and other insurance market reforms. Firms with fewer than 10 employees are expected to see the biggest jump - an increase of more than 14 percent. Talk about delivering big for small businesses!
Of course, many important decisions remain to be made about how states will set up their new insurance marketplaces, or exchanges. Main Street Alliance leaders are actively engaged in states from Maine to Oregon to promote exchanges that maximize on the opportunity to make quality, affordable health coverage available to all small businesses.
On March 30th, Main Street Alliance leader Rick Poore made the trek to Washington, DC from his business in Lincoln, Nebraska to testify at a hearing of the House Energy & Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health.
Rick discussed his support for the new health law. He told his story of steep annual rate increases - several times in excess of 30 percent - in the years before the passage of the health law. And he recounted how his current insurer does rating differently, spreading risk and costs more effectively across younger and older workers, and how he sees that as a microcosm of how the new health insurance exchanges will help small businesses by expanding risk pooling and spreading risk more effectively.
Rick's opening remarks from the hearing are pasted below:
Chairman Pitts, Ranking Member Pallone, and members of the Health Subcommittee,
Thank you for the invitation to testify today. My name is Rick Poore, and I own DesignWear, a screen printing business in Lincoln, Nebraska. I’m also a member of the Main Street Alliance small business network.
I’ve been a small business owner for 17 years. I started with 3 employees, and we’ve grown to employ 29 people.
I offer health insurance to my employees. It makes sense for morale and retention. But our rates have gone up every year – several times over 30 percent.
At the same time, our benefits were whittled away, in an effort to keep things affordable, until we had little more than a fig leaf left.
Two years ago, I switched to a new insurer. They do rating differently, spreading risk and costs more evenly, and it’s markedly cheaper for me overall. I see this as a microcosm of the new health insurance exchanges coming in 2014.
The country counts on small businesses to create jobs, but if you want to talk about a job-killer, look no further than runaway health insurance costs. Small businesses’ ability to create jobs has been seriously undermined by insurance costs more than doubling in 10 years.
We saw years of steep increases, with no tools to do anything about it. Without bargaining power, I had better odds from a midway carney than I did from my insurance company.
The Affordable Care Act is finally changing that, for the better.
The argument that the health law will cost our economy jobs ignores reality. It ignores the lessons of the last decade, where it was the lack of action by Congress to curb skyrocketing costs that left small businesses in the lurch.
The real threat to job creation is the threat of repealing the law and going back to a system that stacks the deck against us.
On the employer responsibility requirement, we’ve got to remember two facts. First, over 95 percent of our nation’s businesses have less than 50 workers and won’t be impacted. Second, 96 percent of businesses with more than 50 workers already offer coverage.
If some larger businesses complain that paying for health coverage will harm their ability to create jobs, remember that when they don’t pay, the rest of us pay their way for them, and that hurts our ability to create jobs. This is anti-competitive.
Imagine if my competition stopped paying wages and I was held responsible for making their payroll. It may sound crazy, but that’s effectively what we’re doing with cost shifting in health care.
Recent data from insurers in Nebraska, Kansas City, and national companies like UnitedHealth Group and Coventry show encouraging increases in small business coverage. ,
From the tax credits to stronger rate review and the value for premiums requirement, the health law is already helping small businesses offer coverage, save money, and plow those savings back into job creation. We’ll get even more help in 2014 when the insurance exchanges open.
I’m looking forward to broader risk pooling and bargaining power in a Nebraska insurance exchange.
There are 40,000 firms in Nebraska with less than 50 employees that could buy in the exchange, employing 230,000 people. Talk about increasing my bargaining power.
I know insurance lobbyists are trying to blame recent rate increases on the new law. But insurers find an excuse to raise rates every year. If they’re raising them again, it’s in spite of the law, not because of it.
Even insurance executives admit this: an executive in Massachusetts said recently that only one percentage point of his company’s increases this year was due to the new law.
Small business people are problem solvers. We wake up every day looking for a better way to do business. We take whatever pitch is thrown at us and do something with it.
Problem solving is what the American people send Representatives to Washington to do.
Here’s the thing about problem solving: most solutions aren’t perfect out of the box. But that’s no reason to scrap them. We make a start in the right direction and correct the course as needed.
Our country and our economy can’t afford to go back to a health system that stacks the deck against small businesses. We’ve got to move forward.
The other day I had to ask my wife when we actually started DesignWear – as a habit, I believe most entrepreneurs look mainly forward and rarely back. That’s what I’m asking you to do.
By moving forward, you can level the playing field for small businesses, allowing us to focus on creating jobs and building our local economies.