The Hill's Congress Blog
April 2, 2012
April 2, 2012
By Frank Knapp, Jr., vice-chair, American Sustainable Business Council
The Supreme Court has now completed its three days of hearing on provisions within the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or “Obamacare” as even the president’s reelection campaign is now calling it. Opponents of the ACA will continue their public relations campaign to influence public opinion with hopes that their efforts will even shape the eventual decision by individual Justices.
Therefore it is important that ACA supporters like the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) continue to educate the public, and possibly other interested parties, on the negative consequences to small businesses of a successful repeal effort by organizations like the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), which joined 26 states in filing the court case against the ACA.
While the ACA is only two years old, the benefits to small businesses, as well as citizens in general, have been very sizable. While “repeal” business groups like the NFIB say that they are representing business interests in their efforts, it is clear that those interests are not those of small businesses.
While the ACA has no mandate for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees (about 97% of all businesses) to offer health insurance, the ACA benefits already in place and to come for small businesses include:
· Giving tax credits of up to 35% that literally hundreds of thousands of small businesses offering health insurance to employees are receiving today;
· Providing affordable health insurance today for tens of thousands of self-employed and other citizens who, without the ACA’s Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, are otherwise uninsurable due to pre-existing conditions;
· Keeping insurance premiums down today by requiring insurance companies to justify rate increases over 10% and top use 80% of small group premiums on actual medical coverage;
· Establishing an insurance exchange that will create more competition between health insurance companies to drive down premiums and end small businesses paying up to 18% higher insurance premiums simply because they are small;
· Dramatically increasing the number of Americans with insurance thus eliminating the hidden tax of $1,000 a year on every family health insurance policy small businesses and other policyholders pay to provide for the uncompensated care of the uninsured;
· Stopping the practice of small businesses paying higher premiums for all employees when they have a worker with a pre-existing condition;
· Providing low-income employees (family income of up to 133% of poverty) with Medicaid thus making private health insurance more affordable for the small-business owner to offer coverage to the other workers;
· Cutting the healthcare chord that keeps an entrepreneur tethered to an employer’s health insurance plan thus encouraging new small business start-ups.
The “repeal” groups seek to take away all the above benefits for small businesses while offering no effective or comprehensive alternative. For the “repeal” groups it is simply a matter of saying NO to these benefits that will make health insurance more affordable for small businesses compared to the healthcare system without the ACA.
While the ASBC is supporting the ACA, we are also promoting other ideas to improve our healthcare system and control healthcare costs including price transparency and integrative healthcare.
Transparency in all healthcare pricing is essential. A legislative proposal by former Congressman Steve Kagen enables consumers to be more effective shoppers for services by providing accurate pricing for all medical services and goods. This will increase competition between medical providers and thus help restrain costs increases.
Patients should be empowered to pursue a full range of healthcare services and products utilizing conventional and alternative treatments for health and wellness. Insurance plans offering access to integrative healthcare expands options, personal choice and potentially less costly yet satisfactory healthcare.
ASBC will continue to resist efforts to turn the clock back on beneficial healthcare reforms and advocate for changes that will lead to affordable and accessible healthcare for all Americans.
Frank Knapp, Jr. is vice-chair of the American Sustainable Business Council, and the president/CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.