While corporate CEOs are pressuring Congress to cut Social Security and Medicare as part of a so-called "Grand Bargain" to reduce the debt, small business owners say that cuts to Social Security and Medicare would be devastating to small businesses across the country.
A new series of reports from the Main Street Alliance and Social Security Works, Business is (Baby) Booming, analyze the important role Social Security and Medicare play in both strengthening the retirement security of small business owners themselves, and fueling consumer demand on Main Street in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Instead of cutting Social Security and Medicare, small business owners say Congress should crack down on offshore tax abuse that allows the wealthy and corporations to avoid more than $100 billion in U.S. taxes per year by sheltering their income offshore.
State "Business is (Baby) Booming" Reports
- Washington, D.C.
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
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.”
On June 21, the Department of Health and Human Services released figures showing health insurance customers are due rebates totaling $1.1 billion from insurance companies that spent too little of their premium dollars on health care in 2011. These rebates are thanks to the 80/20 “value for premiums” rule in the Affordable Care Act, which requires insurers to spend at least 80 cents of every premium dollar collected in the small group and individual markets on health care (as opposed to lobbying, advertising, executive compensation, and general administration).
HHS also released state by state numbers (available here) for the total amount of rebates and the number of insurance customers who will benefit. These figures include: $123.6 million for 1.3 million consumers in Florida; $86.5 million for 1 million consumers in New York; $61.8 million for 300,000 consumers in Illinois; $43.1 million for 687,000 consumers in Virginia; and $27.9 million for 141,000 consumers in Maryland.
While rebates are not due until August 1, small businesses are already benefiting from the 80/20 rule in another way: it’s been forcing insurers to hold premiums down in attempts to avoid owing rebates to customers. The Main Street Alliance released the following quotes from businesses that are already benefiting from the 80/20 rule in this way:
Louisa McQueeney, CFO of Palm Beach Groves in Lantana, Florida:
“Last November, our health insurance agent called with our renewal: after annual increases of 12 percent, 22 percent, and even 32 percent, our premiums in 2012 were going to increase by a grand total of 0.2 percent. That is, essentially flat. This flat renewal came with exactly the same plan – no dumbing down the coverage, no increase in our deductibles, everything was the same.
“I’m thanking ObamaCare’s 80/20 rule for holding my premiums in check. And now, with the new announcement of more than $123 million in rebates due to 1.3 million people in Florida, we may even get a rebate on top of that. For the first time in my twelve years running this business, the health care picture is finally looking up.”
Brian England, owner of British American Auto Care in Columbia, Maryland:
“We renew our insurance in August every year, so around June is when I usually start to get nervous. When we sat down with our agent last summer, 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.
“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. The health care law is working for my business. It passes this technician’s inspection test with flying colors.”
May 27: VA Court Decision on Corporate Campaign Contributions Tilts Playing Field Against Small Businesses
Small business owners urge reconsideration and reversal of Friday’s ruling wiping out remaining protections against flood of corporate money in elections.
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, a federal district court judge in Virginia overturned a century-old precedent in ruling that corporations should be permitted to make direct political contributions to candidates for office. The Main Street Alliance released the following statements from national spokespeople in response:
Jim Houser, owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland, OR and MSA steering committee member:
This decision is not only bad for democracy, it's bad for free and fair competition and especially bad for small businesses. Success in business should be determined by who can offer the best products and services, the best value, the best customer service - not by who can spend more to buy influence with elected officials and then use that influence to game the system.
Overturning a century of precedent to allow corporations to contribute directly to political campaigns is going to take a deck that's already stacked in favor of big corporate players – against small businesses – and stack it even more. If this decision is allowed to stand, our Congress and state legislatures will become wholly-owned subsidiaries of large, multi-national corporations that have no allegiance to this country, or any other, but only to their own short-term financial interests.
Small business owners like me, we know we have to compete against the big corporate players to offer the best value and service to our customers. We welcome that challenge. But give us a level playing field, not a system that's rigged so the big corporate spenders win every time.
David Borris, owner of Hel's Kitchen Catering in Northbrook, IL and MSA executive committee member:
This decision tilts the playing field even further in favor of large corporations at the expense of America’s small businesses. Small businesses are already at risk of getting swamped by price-gouging in health insurance. We're already getting soaked as big companies like GE dodge their taxes and leave us to hold the bag. As if all that wasn't bad enough, along comes a judge in Virginia who blows up the last levees protecting us from getting drowned in a flood of corporate money in politics.
Unless this decision is reconsidered and reversed, it's going to be a serious problem, and not only for today's small businesses. It will threaten to choke off new start-up opportunities as large corporations will write the rules of the game and then act as their own umpire. This decision goes against the very idea of America as the 'land of opportunity.'