Small business leaders from the Main Street Alliance and our state affiliates weighed in and framed the debate in press coverage of the Supreme Court's ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act. MSA small business leaders shared concrete, personal stories of how the law is helping their businesses and what small businesses can look forward to now that the law has been upheld and will keep moving forward. A compilation of links and excerpts from the coverage follows!
The decision was embraced at Palm Beach Groves in Lantana, where the business relied on a tax credit to offer health insurance to its employees, all of whom are older and have preexisting conditions, said General Manager and CFO Louisa McQueeney.
“I think it’s great news. It means that we can move forward, the gains we made this year, the premiums being flat and we applied for the tax credit which is $7,400, which is great.”
McQueeney is pleased with the Supreme Court's decision. She took advantage of a tax credit of about $7500 this year and believes other businesses could benefit too.
"You are a business person. There is money sitting there on the table, right there, take it. And provide people with health care," she said.
Louisa McQueeney interviewed on importance of ACA for her business and employees.
MAINE: MAINE SMALL BUSINESS COALITION
Quotes MSBC leader John Costin:
“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.”
Small business groups that supported health care reform were elated by the decision.
“Small business owners knew we couldn’t afford to go back to the nightmare scenario that health care was for us before reform,” said John Costin, owner of Veneer Services Unlimited in Kennebuck, Maine, and a leader of the Maine Small Business Coalition. “The Supreme Court’s decision means we won’t have to. Instead, we can keep looking forward.”
“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,” Costin said.
Gov. Martin O'Malley is highlighting a Columbia businessman's support for the Affordable Care Act as an example of why the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the law matters in Maryland.
At the end of the op-ed, England said feared these savings would be taken away by a Supreme Court decision, but after today's ruling, he can rest easier.
"It's unbelievable," said England in an interview with Patch on Thursday. "I'm walking on air."
NEW JERSEY: NEW JERSEY MAIN STREET ALLIANCE
NJ MSA’s Odette Cohen quoted:
Willingboro physician Odette Cohen, a vocal supporter of the reform law, said she was “elated” by the court’s decision, claiming it will ensure that millions of uninsured residents will have an avenue for obtaining coverage. She also said small businesses like her practice will be able to get more affordable plans for employees.
“This is really good news; the law is in place. There’s hope,” Cohen said Thursday.
Popular components of the law that already have been implemented, such as provisions permitting young adults to remain on their parents’ plans until they turn 26 and preventing insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions, also will be maintained, Cohen said.
NJ MSA small business leaders Kelly Conklin, Henry Passapera, and Odette Cohen quoted in online story; Kelly Conklin featured on radio segment.
Anita Thomas, owner and chief executive officer of AM Thomas and Associates in Plainfield, finds much to like in the Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Thomas, who is also executive director of the Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company, was more than happy with the decision — especially since she had just come from a procedure at a doctor’s office after the long-awaited ruling was released.
Opinion piece by NJ MSA’s Kelly Conklin.
NJ MSA’s Kelly Conklin interviewed for BBC World News.
OREGON: MAIN STREET ALLIANCE OF OREGON
Interview with MSA-Oregon co-chair Jim Houser at Hawthorne Auto Clinic.
From Jim Houser, Hawthorne Auto Clinic, Portland, co-chair Main Street Alliance of Oregon: "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 and an over 3% drop in premiums. (And my two children were able 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 Main Street Alliance of Oregon represents business owners favoring the law. “This is a good day for small businesses in Oregon and across America,” said Jose Gonzalez of Tu Casa Real Estate in Salem.
“We’ve been working hard to make health care reform work for small businesses. Today, we should take a minute to celebrate – and then get back to the work of implementing the law.”
"We're spending over $70,000 a year to cover insurance for our employees," Gilbert, 68, said. "As rates go up, we pay more, then employees pay more for insurance."
But now that Gilbert knows that his business will benefit from a tax credit due to the Affordable Care Act, which was upheld today by the U.S. Supreme Court, he no longer worries as much.
"It's a huge decision for a small business like mine," he said. "We're on the front line to provide insurance to our employees and we will continue to do that now. As long as I am in business, I am dedicated to help my employees. "
On the other hand, the Main Street Alliance of Oregon group gushed over the news. The Alliance represents small businesses that, group officials said, are already benefitting from tax credits and cost controls imposed by the law.
"After nearly 10 years of double-digit premium increases, the (Act) provided my small business with more than $12,000 a year in tax credits and a 3 percent drop in premiums," said Jim Houser, owner of Portland's Hawthorne Auto Clinic and the Main Street Alliance's co-chairman, in a statement.
But another small-business group, the Main Street Alliance, celebrated the court’s decision on its blog. Jim Houser, owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland and a leader of the state affiliate, wrote: “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… The court’s decision to affirm the ACA makes this a great day for America and for America’s small businesses.”
880 AM RADIO MEDFORD :: Southern Oregon live talk show, MSA-Oregon co-chair Mark Kellenbeck spoke on ACA as the decision came out.
VIRGINIA: VIRGINIA MAIN STREET ALLIANCE
The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the health care reform law left Tammy Rostov jumping for joy.
"We're very excited; we jumped up and down and hugged when the news was announced," the owner of Rostov's Coffee and Tea in Richmond said Thursday.
"I provide full coverage for employees, and we were close to being priced out of the market," she said, adding that the new law will help prevent that.
WASHINGTON: MAIN STREET ALLIANCE OF WASHINGTON
Commentary by MSA of Washington’s Makini Howell (Plum Bistro, Seattle):
Then, President Obama’s health care reform law came along. When I crunched the numbers, I found out that the law’s health care tax credit for small businesses would immediately cut 20 percent off the cost of insuring my employees. And in 2014, when the law’s fully in effect, that tax credit goes up to about one-third of my costs.
Suddenly, providing health insurance wasn’t just something I dreamed of doing – it was something I actually could do. About three months ago, right around the two-year anniversary of the law, I began enrolling my employees in a health insurance plan for the first time. Let me tell you – that felt good!
Features Main Street Alliance member Jody Hall (Cupcake Royale).
Story of Main Street Alliance of Washington member Laura Waite (Jay's Professional Automotive).
Spokane business and real estate developer Ron Wells called the court ruling a victory for people and business. He applauded the requirement of forcing insurance companies to spend 80 percent of their premium collections on paying medical bills rather than fighting claims, paying exorbitant executive salaries, building rich reserves and hiring lobbyists.
Features MSA of Washington leader Makini Howell.
For Hall, the decision means it will become more affordable for her to continue offering healthcare for her 72 workers. Before the Affordable Care Act, she was subject to annual rate hikes of 20 percent—in 2009 it climbed as high as 40 percent—and in 2011, she paid over $67,000 to cover her workers. But this year, Hill said her premium only went up five percent, an increase she called “unheard of.”
KVI 570 AM RADIO :: Interviews with Main Street Alliance members (Molly Moon Neitzel and Laura McDowell Waite)
KOMO RADIO :: Interview with Main Street Alliance member Jody Hall (Cupcake Royale)
KOMO 4 & KOMO RADIO :: Interview with Laura Waite (small business owner who has a pre-existing condition & relies on the Pre-Existing Condition Plan for coverage)
Q13 FOX :: In-studio interviews with Main Street Alliance members Makini Howell (Plum Bistro) and Jody Hall (Cupcake Royale)
KOMO TV :: Interview with Main Street Alliance member Laura Waite (Jay’s Pro Auto)
KIRO TV :: Interview with Main Street Alliance member Makini Howell (Plum Bistro)
KPLU :: Interview with Main Street Alliance member Molly Moon Neitzel (Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream)
“Some small businesses are actually getting tax breaks. Molly Moon Neitzel is the owner of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream in Seattle. She says since the health law was passed, she’s been able to get tax credits the past two years because she offers health insurance for her employees.”
The Main Street Alliance voted recently to officially endorse a new issue: paid sick days. Why do small business owners care about this issue? For a wide range of reasons - like workplace productivity, public health, and a commitment to treating workers like family. In short, it seems like the right thing to do... and it makes good business sense, too.
The productivity case alone is a strong one. According to the Center for Worklife Law, "presenteeism" (employees going to work even though they're sick) costs U.S. employers and the U.S. economy an estimated $180 billion a year in lost productivity. When workers don't have access to earned sick time, they're more likely to go to work sick, risk infecting co-workers (and potentially customers), get less done, and take longer to get back to 100 percent.
We'll be posting periodic updates about paid sick days in the weeks and months to come. In the meantime, if you're looking to learn more, check out this nifty infographic from medicalinsurance.org.
Small business owners demand to know if insurers are bankrolling new campaign to undermine health law
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and allies announced their latest campaign to undermine the nation’s new health law by attacking one of the law's funding sources: a fee on health insurance companies. The Main Street Alliance released the following statement from David Borris, owner of Hel's Kitchen Catering in Northbrook, IL and a member of the Main Street Alliance executive committee, in response:
Health insurance companies are reporting the biggest profits in their industry's history, beating analysts' expectations by an average of 30 percent in the first quarter of 2011.(1) So let me get this straight: the U.S. Chamber and its allies are arguing to let insurance companies off the hook from paying their fair share to bring the small business benefits of the health law – things like rate review and a value for premiums requirement – to market? And they’re making that argument in our name, in the name of America's small businesses?
This looks like another case of small business identity theft – hiding behind small business arguments to defend big insurance profits, just like when health insurers secretly funneled $86 million to the U.S. Chamber in 2009 to fund attacks on health reform in the name of the business community. We'd like to know, are the insurance companies bankrolling this latest campaign, too?
(1) Reed Abelson, "Health Insurers Making Record Profits as Many Postpone Care," The New York Times, May 13, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/14/business/14health.html?emc=tnt&tntemail0=y
The country observed National Small Business Week in May (see the Presidential Proclamation). The Main Street Alliance marked the occasion by releasing its “State of the Small Business Nation – 2011.” This white paper includes a “Small Business Top Ten List” of concrete policy opportunities to level the playing field for small businesses and help them create jobs.
While pundits and politicians like to label policies “pro-business” or “anti-business,” as if there were one unified business interest, the reality is that policies that make winners out of some businesses make losers out of others. As Bruce Josten, the chief lobbyist of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, put it, “You’re never going to have one hundred percent unanimity. Never. There is inherent tension… I laugh every day when someone calls and asks what does the business community think.” (1)
While Mr. Josten pointed to tensions between oil and gas companies, wholesalers and retailers, investment banks and retail banks – all big corporate players – his point applies even more so to the dynamics between big business and small business. While pundits and politicians like to lump all business interests together, the truth is that policies that benefit large corporate players very often tilt the playing field against small businesses.
In a cover letter to President Obama, senior administration officials, and congressional leaders on May 18, Main Street Alliance business leaders wrote:
Our members come from states across the country and a wide range of sectors, but we are united by a common set of values – small business values. We believe in what we do, we stand by our products and services, and we want people in government and corporate leadership who do the same. We stand for fair play and a level playing field. We stand for having each other’s backs. We believe America’s future prosperity depends on everyone contributing their fair share.
These small business values are what guide our business decisions and our commitment to advancing policies that fulfill the promise of an economy that works for all of us – small businesses, our employees, and the communities that sustain us.
(1) James Verini, “Show Him the Money,” Washington Monthly, July/August 2010, http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2010/1007.verini.html
On May 19, Main Street Alliance members from Louisiana and Maine were joined by Senator Dick Durbin on a conference call highlighting the disproportionate impact of debit card swipe fees on small businesses. Rules limiting swipe fees, passed last year and set to go into effect this summer, are now under attack from the banking lobby, with an amendment under consideration to delay the rules from taking effect for up to 24 months.
Here are a sampling of quotes from speakers on the call:
Mary Noel Black, owner of The UPS Store at Citiplace in Baton Rouge, LA:
“This system is broken and small businesses are paying the price in constantly increasing debit swipe fees. Small businesses have the least leverage, the least ability to negotiate with the big banks and the card companies, so we end up with the worst contracts.
“Those who say they want to delay and study this issue, are really only paving the way for these much-needed swipe fee limits to die a quiet death. Every month of delay on the new swipe fee rules is another $1.3 billion bailout to the banks – delaying 15 months translates into another $15-20 billion gift to the banks, paid for off the backs of small business owners like me.”
Rita Moran, owner of Apple Valley Books in Winthrop, ME:
“Swipe fees are uneven, unfair and it’s absurd! This issue pits one business against another and the customers are caught in the middle. Every day I have customers come in, hand me their debit card and say they want to use it as a credit card because the banks told them to. This is divisive. Beyond the dollars and cents issue, this is a community issue.”
Senator Dick Durbin, Assistant Senate Majority Leader:
“The swipe fee issue is a very important issue for small businesses across America. These are tough times. I’ve heard so many speeches on the floor of the Senate – by both political parties – about how we need to stand behind small businesses because they are the job creators of America. Moving the new swipe fee rules forward is a key opportunity to do that.
“Last year, we got a bipartisan vote of 47 Democrats and 17 Republicans to set the Federal Reserve on the path to establishing reasonable interchange fees. Swipe fees account for $1.3 billion each month, the lion’s share of that going to the biggest banks on Wall Street. We want to end the price fixing by the card companies, end this rip-off of consumers and small businesses by making sure these fees are reasonable.
“The next two weeks are a critical moment for this issue as we wait for the Federal Reserve to announce the rule in the first part of June. We’ll get to look at the rule, dispel rumors about what the rule will do, and then we can move forward from there to implement the rule by the July 21st deadline and ensure fair treatment for all of our small businesses.
“I encourage small business owners in every state to be in touch with your Members of Congress and let them know that this is a critical issue for the growth and expansion of small businesses across America.”