The Republican Party’s healthcare game is a long con. For six years, conservatives demonized the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without offering a viable alternative. Then, when they gained control of Congress and the White House, they came up with the disastrous American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would strip 23 million Americans of their health insurance.
The cynic in me believes this deeply unpopular proposal is part of a plan to play chicken with our healthcare system, allowing Republicans to finally destroy their ACA nemesis. Unfortunately, this reckless strategy is unfolding at the expense of tens of millions of Americans, including the small businesses at the heart of the U.S. economy.
Whether or not Republicans eventually succeed in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it is increasingly obvious that the debate over the future of healthcare is creating so much uncertainty that irreparable damage may have already been done to the ACA. And even if the Republican replacement for the ACA, known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), does become law it might end some of the uncertainty but it won’t bring any relief as 23 million Americans would lose their health coverage by 2026, while 54 million people would experience market destabilization through skyrocketing rates in some regions. This will have a catastrophic effect on our economy as a whole and severely damage small businesses that already face higher insurance costs than their big business counterparts.
Small business owners are not some sort of single-minded monolith, but they are often treated that way. Stories pop up frequently with bold, broad-stroked claims like “small business optimism is soaring,” “small businesses get hefty tax cut in Trump plan” and “the president changed, so has small business’ confidence.” Now, the latest round of stories on the Republican attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act give the impression that America’s small businesses will be glad to see the ACA go if and when Congress manages to repeal it. While most small business owners agree there are portions of the ACA that can and should be improved, polling shows that a majority of small businesses actually prefer the current law over the GOP replacement plan, and that key provisions of the ACA are helping entrepreneurs succeed.
Entrepreneurs in the United States have a long wishlist of things they would like to see lawmakers do that would help improve their businesses. From tax reform to healthcare changes, there are plenty of ways politicians could make life better for America’s job creators. During this year’s National Small Business Week, however, Congress decided to ignore that list and ended up giving two really lousy gifts to small businesses: the first step toward repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the revocation of a rule that makes it easier for states to establish retirement savings plans that benefit small businesses.
Lawmakers who dream of gutting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) do not seem to care about its importance to small business owners, particularly those who are solo entrepreneurs. What these politicians fail to understand is that the health care law is the first meaningful insurance reform available to entrepreneurs in decades. In fact, for many self-employed business owners, their firms would not exist without it. That’s why repealing the law is going to be a sizable setback for entrepreneurship. Continue reading