Healthcare Reform 1 Year Later: What It Means for Small Businesses

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

It’s been a year since the president signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law, and it’s time to take stock of what it has meant for small businesses.

We know it’s hard to keep up with what’s happening with healthcare reform these days. The new law is complicated. The debate is heated, still. And entrepreneurs are busy with the day-to-day demands of running their businesses. So we wanted to shine some light on the situation during this anniversary week with forums, roundtable discussions and webinars about what is in the act for small business.

And the fact is, there’s a lot the act-signed into law on March 23, 2010-has to offer small business owners. There are tax credits available right now for 4 million small business owners. Self-employed people who couldn’t get insurance because of preexisting conditions can now get coverage through temporary high-risk pools. And by 2014, the law calls on states to create health insurance marketplaces that will allow small business owners to combine their buying power and drive down the cost of health insurance plans.

Entrepreneurs across the country already are cashing in on the benefits. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, tax credits gave Mark Hodesh the confidence he needed to hire another employee for his Downtown Home and Garden shop. In Colorado Springs, Colorado, those credits mean John Crandall, owner of Old Town Bike Shop, can lower his employees’ contribution to the premium-essentially putting money back in their pockets. And Dave Harper, owner of Harper Engineering in Cleveland, Ohio, is getting money back that he plans to invest in computer equipment for his business.

Without the law, Mark, John and Dave, along with countless other small employers who have benefited over the past year, wouldn’t have seen these benefits. In fact, their situation could be much worse. An economic analysis Small Business Majority released, based on modeling by MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, found that without reform, small business owners would shell out $2.4 trillion to cover healthcare costs by 2018, and 178,000 small business jobs and $52.1 billion in profits would evaporate.

That thought is enough to make anyone hoping for economic recovery sick.

While some continue playing politics in hopes of obfuscating the facts about the Affordable Care Act, we want to make sure small business owners know what is in the law for them. That’s why we have organized events across the country this week to discuss the impact the act is having on American small businesses. Take a look at the rundown of events and see if there is anything in there you want to participate in.

Being in the know makes sense for your bottom line.

Shining a light on what healthcare reform means to small business

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

It’s hard to keep up with what’s happening with healthcare reform these days. The new law is complicated. The debate is heated. And entrepreneurs are busy running their businesses, making it hard to stay on top of it all.

We’re here to shine some light on the situation.

The fact is that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—signed into law on March 23, 2010—has a lot to offer small business owners. There are tax credits available now—as in today!—for more than 4 million small business owners who offer their employees health insurance. Self-employed people who couldn’t get insurance because of preexisting conditions can now get coverage. And by 2014, the act calls for states to create health insurance marketplaces that will allow small business owners to combine their buying power and drive down the cost of health insurance.

Entrepreneurs across the country already are cashing in on the benefits. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, tax credits gave Mark Hodesh the confidence he needed to hire another employee for his Downtown Home and Garden shop. In Las Vegas, those credits mean Ron Nelsen, owner of Pioneer Overhead Door, doesn’t have to worry about having to cut his hard working employees’ health insurance. And in Illinois, the credits mean publisher Sharon Whalen no longer worries about having to drop the disability plans she offers employees of the Illinois Times when times are tight.

Also, let’s remember that small businesses were facing a dire situation if nothing was done to reform the nation’s broken healthcare system. An economic analysis we released, based on modeling by MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, concluded that without reform, small employers would shell out $2.4 trillion to cover healthcare costs by 2018, and 178,000 small business jobs and $52.1 billion in profits would evaporate.

That thought is enough to make anyone hoping for economic recovery feel sick.

While some continue playing politics in hopes of obfuscating the facts about healthcare, we want to make sure small business owners know what is in the Affordable Care Act for them. That’s why next Monday is national “Small Business Day,” and we are working with partners across the nation to hold a slew of events to get the word out about the panoply of benefits available to small businesses and the overall impact the act is having on our country’s job creators.

Get a full rundown of events and find some you can participate in by clicking here.

Senate Amendments Blocking EPA’s Authority Bad for Small Business

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

This week, two amendments to small business legislation were offered to prevent the EPA from enforcing the Clean Air Act—a law that has led to major technological innovation and small business job creation. The sponsors of these amendments couldn’t get their own versions of legislation gutting the EPA’s authority through the Senate, so now they’re attempting to derail small business measures to get their way. Small business owners deserve better.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technical Transfer (STTR) programs have everything to do with small business and giving our nation’s chief job creators more opportunities. Preventing the EPA from enforcing the Clean Air Act has nothing to do with these programs, and the amendments under consideration are nothing more than political gimmicks that, if passed, would be at the expense of small firms.

We should be building on the 40 years of success the Clean Air Act has given small businesses and our economy as a whole, not returning to the past. A report we released in Oct. 2010 showed that the benefits of the Clean Air Act have far outweighed the costs, and in the last two decades, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has increased by more than 64%. Additionally, the law has spawned important technological innovations that made exports of environmental technologies produced in America to be valued at $30 billion in 2004. All in all, it has created 1.3 million new jobs. Their arguments that the Clean Air Act is bad for business simply don’t past muster.

The Senate must reject these amendments and get back to focusing on sound policies that aid small businesses in creating jobs and expanding, so our economic recovery can continue to take shape. .

House Budget Cuts Take Aim at Small Business

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

The $61 million in budget cuts passed by the House of Representatives in February would have some unfortunate consequences for the future of small businesses if enacted.

The legislation would block funding for implementation of healthcare reform—a blow to small businesses trying to get relief from the high cost of insurance. In especially shortsighted moves, it would strip funding from the EPA and the Department of Energy.

While we agree federal deficits are a major concern that need a long-term solution, the House’s cuts in areas such as job-training programs, loan guarantees for renewable-energy programs and scientific research are taking away the seed corn for the future of this country.

Removing the EPA’s funding and therefore its ability to enforce the Clean Air Act will stifle the job creation and innovation that are direct products of the law. It also would set back efforts to transition to clean energy—a sector of our economy that promises to create jobs and business for millions of entrepreneurs. Cutting programs that have a stimulative effect on the economy is not what we should be doing in a recession.

Budget decisions need to go beyond punching numbers into an equation to come up with a set dollar figure. They need to take into account what this country needs to grow, and most imporantly what will put America back to work.

Recent Ruling by Florida Judge Lets Us Get Back to the Important Stuff

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

The media has been chock full of stories on the political drama surrounding recent court decisions on the constitutionality of the new healthcare law. Various judges have ruled that the law is constitutional, except one. Florida Judge Roger Vinson’s decision on Jan. 31 declaring the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional was an unfortunate setback for those looking for relief from the ever-rising cost of health insurance.

But yesterday’s news that Judge Vinson stayed his previous ruling, which means states can continue implementing provisions of the law, was a much-needed step in the right direction. It allows us to focus on what’s important—implementing provisions of the law that will provide small businesses with the relief they’re in desperate need of, such as lower costs, better access to coverage and fewer administrative hassles.

While the legal bickering plays out in the courts, states can now work to smoothly enact provisions of the Affordable Care Act—such as the creation of health insurance marketplaces—that will have significant benefits for small employers.

Unfortunately, the ideologues will undoubtedly continue to rehash worn out debates on this topic. Yet while they obfuscate and misinform, the rest of us are working hard to ensure states have flexibility in choosing how best to implement the reforms so that small businesses across the country get the most out of the new law. Our research has shown time and again that thanks to healthcare reform, America’s 28 million small businesses will be able to concentrate on running companies and creating jobs instead of worrying about how they’ll afford to pay rising insurance premiums. That’s a sigh of relief we can all appreciate.