As often as possible, GoodBiz113 presents diverse perspectives on small business and entrepreneurship from those who help shape policies and practices that impact us. Here's what some folks have been saying these past couple of weeks about the hot-button subject of health care reform...
"Health care expenditures in the United States are currently about 18 percent of GDP, and this share is projected to rise sharply. If health care costs continue to grow at historical rates, the share of GDP devoted to health care in the United States is projected to reach 34 percent by 2040. For households with employer-sponsored health insurance, this trend implies that a progressively smaller fraction of their total compensation will be in the form of take-home pay and a progressively larger fraction will take the form of employer-provided health insurance.
"The rising share of health expenditures also has dire implications for government budgets. Almost half of current health care spending is covered by Federal, state, and local governments. If health care costs continue to grow at historical rates, Medicare and Medicaid spending [both federal and state] will rise to nearly 15 percent of GDP in 2040. Of this increase, roughly one-quarter is estimated to be due to the aging of the population and other demographic effects, and three-quarters is due to rising health care costs.
"Perhaps the most visible sign of the need for health care reform is the 46 million Americans currently without health insurance. CEA projections suggest that this number will rise to about 72 million in 2040 in the absence of reform. A key factor driving this trend is the tendency of small firms not to provide coverage due to the rising cost of health care." -- Council of Economic Advisers [CEA], chaired by Christina Romer [pictured], "The Economic Case for Health Care Reform" [June 2, Executive Office of the President]
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"Nobody supports the status quo. We absolutely have to have reform... If this thing gets derailed, it's going to be bad for everybody." -- James Gelfand, senior manager of health policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, noting that a government plan wouldn't be needed if insurance market reforms, such as prohibiting insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, were enacted. He hopes the larger goal of health care reform -- lowering costs so more people can afford coverage -- doesn't get lost in battles over public plans and employer mandates. [June 8, "Business Warily Awaits Health Care Reform," Washington Business Journal]
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"...At the individual level, the average American spends about $7,900 per year on health care. Despite that huge outlay, a recent study found that medical problems contributed to 62 percent of all bankruptcies in 2007. From a business perspective, General Motors spends more on health care per automobile than on steel while small-business owners are forced to divert hard-earned profits into health coverage for their employees -- rather than new business investments. And, because of rising costs, many businesses are cutting back drastically on their level of health care coverage or are doing away with it entirely..." -- Sen. Bernie Sanders [I-Vt., pictured], "Health Care Is a Right, Not a Privilege" [June 9, The Huffington Post]
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"It's not tax supported like Medicare; it will be financed by premiums just like regular insurance, except for people who can't afford it. If you have coverage that works, you continue to have coverage that works. The only change will be now the coverage will have to be good. The other change is that your company will be required to provide good coverage or help pay for it. So, for most Americans, nothing's going to change. But for people who don't get coverage that works -- the self-employed, people with several part-time jobs, small business -- they will be able to go into a new health insurance marketplace called the Exchange, a national public insurance company financed by premiums. Unless they make below a certain level, four times poverty, and then they'll be subsidized." -- Richard Kirsch, national campaign manager, Health Care for America Now [HCAN], a national grassroots campaign of more than 1,000 organizations in 46 states -- representing 30 million people -- dedicated to winning comprehensive, quality, affordable health care that we can all count on in 2009. [June 9, "What's the Deal With Obama's Public Health-Care Plan?" Esquire]
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"...The cost of health care has helped leave big corporations like GM and Chrysler at a competitive disadvantage with their foreign counterparts. For small businesses, it’s even worse. One month, they’re forced to cut back on health care benefits. The next month, they've got to drop coverage. The month after that, they have no choice but to start laying off workers...
"I know that there are millions of Americans who are happy, who are content with their health care coverage -- they like their plan, they value their relationship with their doctor. And no matter how we reform health care, I intend to keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you'll be able to keep your doctor; if you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan.
"So don't let people scare you. If you like what you've got, we're not going to make you change. But in order to preserve what's best about our health care system, we have to fix what doesn't work. For we've reached the point where doing nothing about the cost of health care is no longer an option. The status quo is unsustainable. If we don't act, and act soon to bring down costs, it will jeopardize everybody's health care. If we don't act, every American will feel the consequences in higher premiums -- which, by the way, means lower take-home pay, because it's not as if those costs are all borne by your employer; that's money that could have gone to giving you a raise -- in lost jobs and shuttered businesses, in a rising number of uninsured and a rising debt that our children and their children will be paying off for decades..." -- President Barack Obama, during remarks made at a town hall meeting in Green Bay, Wis., on health care and his vision for a Health Insurance Exchange. [June 11, Executive Office of the President]
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"Small businesses in the United States are suffering great harm under our current health care system, and will likely fare far better under a substantially reformed system along the lines of what is currently being debated in Washington -- as long as such a system offers appropriate levels of assistance to small businesses in meeting their health care obligations." -- Small Business Majority, a national nonprofit nonpartisan organization, founded and run by small-business owners, that brings the voice of America's 27 million small businesses to the public-policy table. [June 11, "The Economic Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business"]
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"A national health insurance exchange would offer an array of competing private plans and a new public health insurance plan, helping to improve coverage for 138 million currently insured individuals through more choices, better benefits, and/or more affordable premiums, which would be 20 to 30 percent lower than those now charged in the individual and small-business markets for comparable benefits and enrollees. Savings would be realized by employers and households at every income level." -- The Commonwealth Fund, who co-sponsored a report with Consumers Union, suggesting that a comprehensive and high-quality health care system can be established with a mixed public-private insurance system, a requirement for all employers to offer or contribute to coverage of their workers, and an individual coverage mandate. [June 11, "Front and Center: Ensuring That Health Reform Puts People First"]
GoodBiz113's take: Health care is not a Democatic issue nor a Republican issue; it's a very human issue that deserves to be remedied now. Naysayers need to put their politics and egos aside, and embrace President Obama's far-reaching plan that aims to deliver high-quality care at relatively low cost, and provides health insurance for all Americans.
SOURCES: The Commonwealth Fund, Council of Economic Advisers, Esquire, Huffington Post, Small Business Majority, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington Business Journal, The White House, Wikipedia
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