Supreme Court Decision a Victory for Small Businesses Looking for Relief from High Healthcare Costs

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

Statement originally issued on June 28, 2012:

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today upholding the Affordable Care Act is a victory for small business owners who have struggled with the excessively high cost of health insurance for decades. The Affordable Care Act tackles small business owners’ top priorities when it comes to healthcare reform: cost and accessibility. The law will significantly rein in costs while providing more health coverage options for entrepreneurs.

Our opinion polling has found that small businesses support the law, believe healthcare reform is needed to fix the economy and they support key provisions, particularly the healthcare exchanges and tax credits. Many components of the law, including rate review and the Medical Loss Ratio provision, have already resulted in lower premium costs for small employers. It also help ends “job lock,” where a prospective entrepreneur who has a preexisting medical condition cannot leave their job, launch a new company or help grow the economy because they are locked in their job for health benefits. And in 2014 the law calls for health insurance exchanges to be set up in every state, which will do even more to curb costs and boost choice. State lawmakers who have blocked implementation must now step up to the plate and work with local small businesses to establish these new competitive marketplaces.

The political circus that has surrounded this law for the past two years hasn’t done anything to help small business owners struggling with high costs. Today’s ruling lets us get back to what’s important: implementing the law and getting small business owners the financial relief they’ve been waiting for.

POLL: Small Business Owners’ Opinions Counter Anti-Health Law Hype

Huffington Post

The Affordable Care Act was signed into law more than two years ago, and since then the crusade to dismantle it has steadily gathered momentum. Now, its fate rests with nine United States Supreme Court justices who are expected to announce their ruling by month’s end. If they strike down the landmark law, it could adversely affect millions of small business owners and other Americans who are already benefiting from reform.

Since the National Federation of Independent Business and state attorneys general filed the lawsuit, there’s been a constant stream of negative rhetoric surrounding the law, with opponents claiming it crushes small businesses. But we asked actual small business owners what they thought about it, and their answers might surprise you.

Half of entrepreneurs want the legislation to remain intact, either as is or with only minor changes, while just a third want to see it overturned, according to opinion polling Small Business Majority released last week. The poll, conducted in eight states (Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Texas and Virginia) also found that after small business owners hear more about the law, their support for keeping it fully intact or just making minor changes rises to a 56 percent majority, while opposition falls to half that number.

 

Respondents also support a smorgasbord of the law’s components designed to make coverage more affordable. The health insurance exchanges — online marketplaces where small employers will be able to band together to negotiate better rates — are widely popular with entrepreneurs: 66 percent say they’d use their state exchange or consider using it; only 8 percent would not consider using it when providing employees with benefits.

Larry and Maria Emerson, who own Results Video, Inc. in El Paso, Texas, are two entrepreneurs who look forward to an exchange. With the coverage market as temperamental as it’s been, they’ve burned through nearly every major insurer since 1995. Premium rates for their four insured employees continue to rise, while benefits are whittled away.

Larry and Maria’s plan even left one employee, who already pays 25 percent of his own premium and the full premium for his spouse, facing a $3,000 deductible for routine childbirth. Since they’re young and healthy, the couple chose to avoid the financial blow they’d incur with that steep deductible by opting to have a home birth. Thankfully, it went smoothly. But what if it hadn’t?

“It’s disappointing when you’re an employer and want to offer good insurance but it’s not even affordable enough for an employee to have a baby,” Larry said. “We’re always thinking about what we can do differently to take care of our valuable staff. That’s why we’re looking forward to an exchange. It will make it easier for us to shop for coverage because it offers more plans, plus it’ll allow us to join forces with other companies to drive down costs. We haven’t seen affordability in years. Overturning the law would rob us of it.”

Most entrepreneurs surveyed find potential features of the exchange very appealing. These marketplaces are attractive because they’ll help expand coverage, which is important to small business owners: 55 percent say the reason they want the law upheld is because we need to make sure everyone has insurance. Another third believe it’ll make it easier to purchase insurance — one of the features Larry and Maria find appealing.

There’s no shortage of enthusiasm for most other provisions of the law, either. Nearly 8 in 10 owners support the ban on preexisting condition exclusions, 72 percent support requiring insurers to spend at least 80 cents of every premium dollar on patient care and 65 percent support allowing states to review and potentially reject excessive premium increases.

Having faced such high rate hikes for decades, small business owners’ support for the Affordable Care Act really shouldn’t be surprising. Something is finally being done to repair the faulty mechanisms in the coverage market that make insurance so expensive. Small business owners understand that, and it’s why more of them want the law upheld than overturned. If Supreme Court justices are going to do what’s best for small firms and the economy, they’ll listen to what real entrepreneurs have to say — not to a select few who are speaking for them.

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Plurality of Small Business Owners Want Healthcare Law Upheld; Only One-Third Want it Overturned

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

Originally released June 14, 2012:

A plurality (50 percent) of small business owners want the healthcare reform law upheld—either as is or with minor changes—while only one-third want the Supreme Court to overturn it, according to opinion polling released today by Small Business Majority. However, after learning more about the law, a clear majority (56 percent) want it kept intact with, at most, only minor changes.

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision any day in the case against the Affordable Care Act, filed by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and state attorneys general. The polling of 800 small business owners in eight states (Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Texas and Virginia) found that once small business owners learn more about the law, their support for keeping it intact—either as is or with minor changes—rises to 56 percent, while opposition falls to just 28 percent.

Contrary to popular belief, small business owners do not want the high court to throw out the Affordable Care Act. They see this law as helping everyone have coverage and bringing down healthcare costs—something that has been one of their top concerns for years. We hope Supreme Court justices understand how important this law is to small businesses who need relief from high healthcare costs.

Key provisions of the law also have strong small business support, including one of the most crucial components for small businesses—the health insurance exchanges. The Affordable Care Act calls for exchanges—online marketplaces where small businesses can pool their buying power when purchasing coverage—to be up and running in every state by 2014. Sixty-six percent of owners say they would use their state exchange or consider using it to provide their employees with health benefits. The majority of entrepreneurs find potential features of the exchange very appealing, including employee choice (76 percent), the exchange educating employees about plans (74 percent), and the exchange providing plans that offer prevention and wellness programs (77 percent). Additionally, a strong majority (66 percent) of small businesses support their state applying for federal funds to set one up.

“Small businesses have been at the center of this lawsuit, and everything I hear is that they want it overturned. That’s not true for me, and it obviously isn’t true for the majority of my fellow entrepreneurs,” said Mark Hodesh, owner of Downtown Home and Garden in Ann Arbor, Mich. “I sincerely hope our Supreme Court justices listen to what real small businesses are saying about this law, not what a select few are saying for us, and that they uphold it. Going back to the status quo would be unthinkable.”

Other key findings from the poll:

  • 55 percent of small businesses who support upholding the law believe it should be kept because we need to make sure everyone has health coverage; more than one-third say it’s because it will make it easier to purchase insurance
  • 72 percent support the medical loss ratio requirement, where insurers are required to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on healthcare claims and quality improvement efforts
  • 65 percent support “rate review,” where state regulators are allowed to review and approve or reject insurers’ increases they deem excessive
  • 78 percent support prohibiting insurers from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions
  • 69 percent support preventing insurance companies from basing insurance rates on health status; 73 percent support preventing insurers from charging women higher rates than men
  • 69 percent favor allowing young people up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ plans
  • 55 percent of small business owners provide insurance to at least some of their employees, but of those who don’t offer it, 70 percent say it’s because they can’t afford it
  • Of small businesses who do offer benefits, respondents said the two most compelling reasons to offer were that they had a responsibility to offer (47 percent) and because it helps retain good employees (47 percent)
  • Of the small businesses who qualify for a tax credit under the law, but were not taking advantage of it, nearly half (46 percent) said they weren’t using it because they were not aware it existed
  • Nearly half of all small businesses (49 percent) said they’d be more likely to offer insurance if they qualified for a tax credit and the same percentage said they’d be more likely to purchase insurance through an exchange if they could receive a tax credit
  • 51 percent of small businesses are interested in establishing a workplace wellness program

To read the full report go online to http://www.smallbusinessmajority.org/small-business-research/healthcare/small-business-owners-views-on-aca.php

Fact Check: EPA Regulations Are Not Small Business’s Kryptonite

Huffington Post

While the economy is slowly recovering, the road back to pre-recession employment levels has been peppered with potholes. Partisan politics in Congress are doing nothing to help the economy, or the small businesses working to rebuild it. In one of the latest attempts to harness the influence of small business — a coveted pawn in political chess games — former Senator Blanche Lincoln decried government regulation as the biggest impediment to small business and economic recovery in a Huffington Post blog entry. She pointed to Environmental Protection Agency regulations specifically.

But let’s get the facts straight.

Small business owners actually support an array of recently proposed EPA regulations. And by wide margins, too. Small Business Majority’s most recent polling, released on June 7, found the vast majority of small businesses in Ohio — a major manufacturing state — support EPA clean air standards, and two-thirds of those polled also feel government investments in clean energy can stimulate the economy and create jobs now.

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Small Firms Create Majority of New Jobs in May; Robust Policies Can Help Keep it Up

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

Original statement issued on June 1, 2012:

Our nation’s smallest businesses—those with 1-49 employees—continue to outpace large businesses in the race to put America back to work. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees created more than half of all new jobs last month, and, from April to May, they boosted the actual number of jobs they generated by 16 percent, according to data released Thursday by Automatic Data Processing, Inc (ADP). Small businesses overall accounted for more than 93 percent of all new jobs last month, while large businesses created just 6.8 percent of new jobs.

These figures underscore the starring role small businesses have in helping lower the unemployment rate, and they’re a reminder that the smallest firms are our country’s primary job creators. These businesses can and will put our economy back on track, but they can’t do it singlehandedly. Legislators must continue pursuing pragmatic economic policies that ensure entrepreneurs have they tools they need to keep rebuilding the economy. We suggest:

  • Calling on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to issue bank charters that would supply small firms with more credit. The agency has not issued a single charter this year, despite the dismal lending landscape entrepreneurs continue to face: our national opinion polling found 90 percent of small business owners view credit availability as a problem.
  • Passing the Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act, which would promote small business job creation by providing a 10 percent income tax credit for increased payroll in 2012 while also extending the 100 percent expense deduction for equipment that lowers owners’ after-tax costs.
  • Extending the Production Tax Credit for wind project development, as it supports 37,000 jobs that would be at risk if the credit expires. Not only would extending this credit protect existing jobs, small business owners also indicate it could help generate new jobs: 7 in 10 small business owners believe government investments in clean energy play an important role in boosting the economy and creating jobs now.
  • With ADP’s latest data highlighting small businesses as invaluable assets to the economy, it’s clear we must support them with pragmatic solutions that address their greatest concerns. We encourage lawmakers to pursue robust policies such as those listed above, as failing to do so would only hamper our fiscal recovery.