Friday, November 20, 2009

As Key Senate Health Care Vote Nears, Landrieu Aims to 'Institute the Right Reforms' to Aid America's Small Businesses, Workers, Families

Today, on the eve of a pivotal U.S. Senate vote to begin the debate on health care reform, Sen. Mary Landrieu [D-La., pictured], chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, pledged her support to do what's right for small businesses, their workers, and families.

"As you may know, this week, the Senate unveiled its healthcare legislation," Landrieu wrote in a letter to small-biz stakeholders across the nation. "This bill will create a system of exchanges that will pool small businesses to spread risk, lower costs, and give owners and employees more predictable, quality health care choices.

"To ensure these exchanges work effectively, the bill contains consumer protections and market reforms -- including prohibiting insurance companies from denying or rescinding coverage based on health status and an individual mandate to obtain coverage rather than an employer mandate to provide coverage.

"While these reforms are a step in the right direction, there is still more work to do. As we continue negotiations to reform our nation’s health care system, I will persist in working to ensure that the concerns of our nation’s 29 million small businesses remain a central focus. Today, it is more important than ever for Congress to work together to institute the right reforms to aid America’s small businesses and families."

To help clarify how the Senate health care bill -- dubbed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- affects small businesses, Landrieu's committee has compiled a fact sheet that highlights the bill's key points:

Why Small Businesses Need Reform
* Fewer small businesses offer coverage: Over the last ten years, the percentage of small businesses [i.e., with fewer than 200 employees] offering health benefits has dropped from 56 percent to 46 percent.

* Small businesses are not providing insurance because they cannot afford it: America’s small businesses will spend $156 billion on health coverage this year alone.

* Lack of competition causes small firms to pay more: Big companies with more people to spread risk have lower rates because of a lack of competition, causing small firms to pay 18 percent more.

* More jobs will be lost without the right reforms: In 2018 alone, 178,000 small business jobs will be lost due to the high cost of health care.

* Without the right reforms, small businesses will pay more: By 2018, small businesses are expected to spend nearly $2.4 trillion on health coverage.

How This Bill Helps
* Makes health care more affordable: Improves affordability by instituting exchanges that will provide small businesses with more choices and lower costs.

* Tax credits increase affordability: Provides tax credits to small businesses, to make coverage more affordable and to encourage employees to enter into exchanges.

* Levels the playing field for small businesses: By pooling employees in small firms, the exchange system will make small businesses more equal to their larger competitors.

* Promotes entrepreneurship and creates jobs: Encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to start their own businesses by providing realistic health coverage choices for themselves and employees.

* More quality coverage: Consumer protections and market reforms, like preventing insurers from denying or rescinding coverage based on health status, will ensure that the largest possible pool is participating in the exchanges and help bring down costs.

GoodBiz113's take: The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will reduce the deficit by $127 billion over the next 10 years, and as much as $650 billion in the decade following -- saving hundreds of billions of dollars while extending coverage to 31 million more Americans. We appreciate Sen. Landrieu's leadership and advocacy on this landmark legislation to reform health care, and hope that she and her colleagues pass it by year's end.

SOURCES: Congressional Budget Office, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship

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