Congressional testimony may seem a long ways away from cupcake baking, but not for Jody Hall. Hall, owner of Seattle's fast-growing Cupcake Royale and a leader with the Main Street Alliance of Washington, traveled to Washington, DC on May 31 to testify about health care reform before a House committee.
Hall told the story of her business, her commitment to offering health care to her employees, and her support for the Affordable Care Act's state insurance exchanges and other provisions of the law that are putting downward pressure on health care costs for small businesses.
** 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”
On October 20, an all-star team of small business leaders from across the Main Street Alliance network made the trek to Washington, DC to represent the voice of Main Street small businesses in the nation’s capital.
Business owners came from Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington to participate in meetings on Capitol Hill. In a day and a half, the team conducted close to 20 meetings with Senate and House offices, including three face to face meetings with U.S. Senators.
The group held wide-ranging conversations with congressional offices, covering topics including job creation and regulations, revenues and investment, health care, immigration reform, and fixing the housing market.
Some Hill staffers acknowledged that it was helpful – and refreshing – to hear from real small business owners back in their home states and districts, and to hear business owners with a different perspective on topics like taxes and regulations than you hear from the inside-the-beltway business lobbies. Mission accomplished!
Here’s a quick taste of some of the issues the group discussed in meetings on Capitol Hill:
Job Creation & Anti-Regulatory Attacks
Despite all the rhetoric in DC about “regulations,” what small businesses need is customers – demand – not deregulation. The focus on rolling back regulations is counterproductive in two ways. First, it distracts from the real issue, which is rebuilding the small business customer base. Second, the rules and standards that are under threat of being rolled back (financial reform, clean air, health insurance market reforms) are ones that protect small businesses and the communities they rely on from mistreatment by big corporate interests. Rolling back these standards and rules would only shift more risk and more costs onto the shoulders of small businesses.
See MSA’s 10 “dos and don’ts” for job creation
Revenues and Taxes
On revenues and taxes, Main Street Alliance small business owners stand squarely in support of efforts to raise revenues by closing corporate tax loopholes, ending the abuse of off-shore tax havens, and generally ensuring that large corporations and the wealthy are paying their dues. As MSA Executive Committee member Kelly Conklin puts it, “If you want to fly the American flag outside your corporate headquarters, you should be paying your way.” Raising revenues in these ways would generate resources for important investments in infrastructure and job creation, and it would level the playing field for small businesses (who don’t have access to things like off-shore tax havens) at the same time.
At the same time, MSA small business owners are strongly opposed to the push for a repatriation “tax holiday” for large multinational companies, or to giving big corporations a permanent tax holiday – and permanent incentive to off-shore jobs and profits – through what’s called a “territorial” tax system.
See the recent coalition letter MSA signed onto about tax reform
On health care, the MSA delegation discussed important advances in health care reform, and highlighted opportunities to continue building on health reform to maximize the benefits for small businesses.
The MSA delegation in DC also discussed the importance of a comprehensive approach to immigration reform for businesses, workers, and the economy. Enforcement-only policies like the mandatory E-Verify proposal currently in the House of Representatives would be bad for small businesses, bad for the workforce, and bad for the country’s bottom line.
See MSA’s fact sheet about the dangers of mandatory E-Verify
Fixing the Housing Market
On the importance of dealing with the mortgage crisis to create the space for consumer demand to bounce back and help drive the economic recovery, MSA’s small business owners believe more needs to be done. A newly announced program that may allow 1 to 2 million homeowners to refinance is a positive step, but with an estimated 11 million homeowners underwater in their homes, Congress and the Administration should advance proposals for mortgage modification and refinancing on a much larger scale to truly get at the problem of stifled consumer demand.