Burying the Lead: What the NFIB Obamacare study really tells us about the Affordable Care Act and small business
Small businesses plan to increase health care offering next year, breaking a decade-old trend
The NFIB has made no secret of their distaste for the Affordable Care Act. After all, the right-wing small business lobbying group was a lead plaintiff in the failed lawsuit overturn the health care law.
So, when the NFIB last month released the first report in a planned series of three annual reports based on a longitudinal survey of small employers designed to measure “actual changes associated with the introduction of the Affordable Care Act,” it was not surprising that they did so with a decidedly negative media spin: “Small-Business Healthcare Survey Reveals Reality of Painful Premium Increases.”
However, buried in the 56-page report are findings that tell a remarkably different story about how the Affordable Care Act is helping small businesses and their employees access quality, affordable health care.
“Breaking a decade-old trend:” Small businesses plan to increase insurance offerings next year.
Buried on page 26 of the NFIB’s report, is perhaps its most important finding: an increasing share of small business owners plan to offer insurance coverage next year.
According to the NFIB’s report, “The number of small businesses offering employee health insurance fell from last year to this, another in a long series of declines. The size of the decline is modest. However, small employers expect that trend to change this year. More plan to introduce the benefit than drop it. … If small employers follow those plans, the net proportion of them offering would rise, breaking a decade-old trend.”
The NFIB is correct to point to the trend of declining small business health insurance offerings. Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2013 Annual Employer Health Benefits Survey reports that 57 percent of small firms (3-199 workers) offered health insurance in 2013 compared to 65 percent in 2003, an 8 percent decline. Using somewhat different methodology, a 2013 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report found a 9.7 percent decline in insurance offerings from small employers (under 50 employees) from 1999/2000 (47.2 percent) to 2010/2011 (37.5 percent).
Forty-six (46) percent of the small employer respondents (2-99 employees) to NFIB’s survey reported offering insurance in 2013, down from 48 percent the previous year, following the historical trend. However, when asked about their plans for next year, 48 percent planned to offer, reversing the trend with a two percent increase.
The fact that small business owners have increased optimism about offering health insurance next year is a big deal. If small employers follow through on those plans, it would be cause for celebration.
Perhaps because the headline “small businesses plan to increase insurance offerings next year” does not align with the NFIB’s political agenda, this significant finding is buried on page 26 of the report and receives no mention in the organization’s press release. [i]
Change in Insurance Costs: NFIB ignores evidence of premium moderation, hypes premium hikes
The NFIB’s report offers a misleading analysis of changes in insurance costs due to flawed survey methodology, while ignoring evidence of premium moderation.
The NFIB survey asked small employers who offer insurance whether the per-employee cost of their current health plan was more (64 percent), less (6 percent), or about the same (29 percent) as in previous years (Q#41). Respondents were then asked to estimate the per employee percentage change in the cost of this year’s plan to the previous year’s plan, however this follow-up question appears to only have been asked for employers who witnessed price increases (Q#51).
In analyzing survey results, NFIB writes “The median price increase, incorporating in the calculation those with increased, stable, and lower prices, was about 6 percent, though the average increase was closer to 12 percent.” It is impossible for NFIB to have made a calculation for the average change in price because they did not ask respondents experiencing price decreases to estimate the amount of those declines.
Kaiser Family Foundation’s Annual Employer Health Benefits Survey offers a more reliable indicator of changes in small employers’ health insurance premium costs. Reporting on the 2013 Kaiser survey, a Bloomberg headline read “employer health premiums slow for the second straight year.” Drew Altman, the foundation’s president, said “we are in a prolonged period of moderation in premiums, which should create some breathing room for the private sector to try to reduce costs without cutting back benefits.”Source: Main Street Alliance analysis of Kaiser Family Foundation's Annual Employer Health Benefits Survey, 2013.
Main Street Alliance analysis of the Kaiser survey data reveals that in 2013, small employers (3-199 employees) experienced the lowest price increase for family coverage ever recorded in the 15 years Kaiser has conducted the survey. In 2013, annual premiums for covered workers with family coverage in small firms increased only 2.2 percent, compared to an average annual increase of 7.5 percent over the last 15 years.
A lead investigator for the Kaiser study told Bloomberg that, while the health law had contributed to the 2013 slowdown in premium increases, the economy likely played a key role. By contrast, the NFIB used the release of their study to pin the blame for premium increases, a decades-old trend, squarely on the Affordable Care Act, telling Bloomberg Businessweek that the health law was “raising costs for smaller firms.” When pressed, NFIB researcher William Dennis conceded “how much is due just to rising costs normally and how much is due to the ACA, I couldn’t untangle that.”
Furthermore, the NFIB study design minimizes or ignores investigation into how the law’s provisions are improving affordability for small businesses beyond premiums. The NFIB survey did not ask all respondents who offer insurance whether they took advantage of the Affordable Care Act’s small business tax credit, which next year is worth up to 50 percent of small employers’ costs for insuring their employees. Instead, they only asked business owners who had experienced price increases whether they had taken the tax credit “in order to pay for the increase” (Q#50). Seventeen (17) percent of those experiencing price increases reported taking the tax credit, however the NFIB did not ask them to quantify how much the tax credit had saved their firms.
Similarly, the NFIB did not ask whether responding small employers had received rebate checks from their insurance companies which are required when insurers fail to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on health care. Insurers who violate the health law’s 80/20 rule designed to penalize insurers for wasteful spending have already been required to issue rebates worth more than $1 billion to consumers and small businesses.
In releasing its report, NFIB hyped a narrative about rising premiums, while ignoring evidence of premium moderation and Affordable Care Act provisions that lower costs for small businesses.
Employer Responsibility: Small businesses are not limiting growth or cutting employee hours due to the Affordable Care Act
Critics of the Affordable Care Act, including the NFIB, have frequently predicted that the law’s employer responsibility provision would lead businesses to limit the size of their firms to under 50 FTEs or to reduce employees’ hours in order to avoid employer responsibility assessments. However, the NFIB survey struggles to find evidence that validates these claims.
The NFIB survey specifically asked employers whether they were considering either reducing employment or reducing employee hours in response to the health care law. Thirteen percent respondents answered affirmatively on each question. However, in a surprisingly candid analysis, the NFIB reports that “both contraction and planned reduction in employee hours appear highly related to business profitability” rather than whether the employer would face requirements under the Affordable Care Act.
Last month, the Wall Street Journal analyzed Department of Labor data and found “little evidence for the notion that the health law is driving a shift to part-time work.”
In struggling to find evidence of businesses contracting or reducing employment due the Affordable Care, the NFIB’s study throws cold water on their own claims.
Buried in the NFIB’s study on the Affordable Care Act is evidence that the law is working and opponents’ doomsday predictions are unfounded. Small employers plan to increase health insurance offering next year, breaking a decade old trend. There is mounting evidence of premium moderation for small businesses, and the Affordable Care Act is helping lower small business health care costs through tax credits and insurance rebates. Despite the predictions of opponents, there is little evidence that the health law is causing firms to downsize or driving a shift towards part-time work.
The rollout of the health care law has been rocky. Full online functionality of the health insurance marketplace has been delayed for small businesses, and the website has been mired in technical glitches. These problems need to be fixed. Nevertheless, the Affordable Care Act still holds enormous promise that a reformed marketplace with help small business owners access quality, affordable health care.
[i]Sean Vitka at Slate noted NFIB’s omission of positive news in their press materials, while giving NFIB appropriate credit for publishing the results, writing “in today’s climate, we should all be happy that NFIB has the integrity to release surveys that don’t back up their own case, and honestly answer questions that undermine their political leanings—even if their PR department hasn’t gotten the memo.” Bloomberg View columnist, Megan McArdle, meanwhile questioned whether the NFIB’s survey actually showed the results they reported, apparently not realizing that the survey results were weighted based on a stratified random sample (see methodology on page 31).
The U.S. Senate is in the midst of a marathon debate on the DISCLOSE Act, a proposal that would increase transparency in political spending. Unfortunately for small businesses, the bill is being blocked from an up or down vote by a filibuster led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
One of the justifications for blocking the bill is a claim that disclosure requirements for political spending will somehow harm businesses, both large and small. For small businesses, this couldn't be further from the truth.
Secrecy is what harms small businesses, not transparency. In fact, small businesses may be among the most shortchanged constituencies under the current system that allows secret spending to go unchecked. That's for two reasons:
First, because small businesses can't come close to matching the money poured into elections by big corporate actors and wealthy individuals. This means our voices can easily get drowned out in the deluge.
And second, to add insult to injury, big political spenders love to hide their secret spending behind a small business facade given the credibility small business carries as a messenger in the political and policy arenas.
Why else would a political group like Crossroads GPS (co-founded by Karl Rove) give $3.7 million to the National Federation of Independent Business in 2010, only to have NFIB turn around and spend $3.1 million on advertising through Crossroads Media, LLC (the primary media firm for Crossroads GPS)? This is a case of Karl Rove in small business clothing.
And why else would the health insurance industry plow $102.4 million into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to fund its attacks on health care reform in the name of small businesses, at the same time that AHIP members were publicly supporting the concept of health care reform?
Let's call these covert activities what they are: small business identity theft. They're stealing the good name of small business to advance the agenda of big special interests. The current regime of secrecy is aiding and abetting this identity theft.
Secrecy is not a small business value. Let's pass the DISCLOSE Act so small businesses can stop worrying about who's going to steal their identity next and get back to doing what they do best: serving customers, creating jobs, and building strong local economies.
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.”
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”
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