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The health care reform debate is constantly evolving.  Here are some of the week’s top health care headlines to help keep you up-to-date on what’s being said:

Healthcare Reform Debate Heats Up In The House (The Small Business Watchdog)
Power player, the House Ways and Means Committee, debates the idea of a public option.

Health reform FAQ: Cutting through the noise (CNN Money)
Confused about what health care reform would look like and how it would change your world? You’re not alone.

Little Known Info About the Self-Employed and Health Reform [Survey] (NASE on Micro-Business)

President Obama Comments on Self-Employed and Health Reform (ABC News)
His comments on the self-employed and health care reform start at the 4:00 mark of this video clip of the interview.

HHS Secretary Presses Congress on Health Care Reform, Rules Out Increased Deficit Spending (Fox News)
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told lawmakers Wednesday that President Barack Obama is willing to listen to suggestions on how to pay for a health care overhaul, as long as they don’t increase the deficit.

Bipartisan Health Bill Gets Cold Shoulder (Roll Call)
With President Barack Obama and lawmakers in both parties continuing to struggle for a bipartisan health care reform deal, sweeping legislation — pushed by a bipartisan Senate duo — that would fundamentally restructure the way Americans get their health insurance has been gathering dust.

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Every time we ask the self-employed to tell us what’s on their mind, they don’t disappoint. This week, I’ve been knee-deep in efforts surrounding the recent release of our survey on the health reform perspectives of the self-employed.

Here are some cool tidbits I learned from the results (print version):

  • The self-employed are following the health care debate like hawks. When asked how many had heard the term “public option” in relation to discussions surrounding reform, two-thirds indicated they were familiar with the term, and of those, 71 percent identified it correctly as “a health insurance program run by the government and open to anyone in need of health coverage.”
  • The top two health tax proposals favored by micro-businesses are providing tax credits to businesses and the self-employed to offset health care costs and reforming the tax treatment of health coverage so that, regardless of whether health insurance is purchased individually or accessed through an employer, the worker receives the same tax benefits.
  • The majority of respondents were neutral on a recent suggestion of a cap on the employer exclusion. However, there were quite a few who strongly opposed such a cap.

The above figures are cool – in the Public Affairs department, we LOVE having stats to pass along to media – but I always enjoyed being able to wade through individual responses. Our response system is completely anonymous, and even though I can’t “put a face” to each comment, reading them always gives me a better understanding of what people out in the “real world” are thinking. Many survey respondents gave specific comments on the public option, mandates and other issues impacting the health care reform conversation. Here are just a few examples:

I do not think the government should become an insurer. I do think the government should regulate private insurers more.

I do not agree with the government mandating how businesses should run. They have been unsuccessful with their own budgets. What qualifies them to stipulate this to successful businesses?

Employers should not provide coverage. Let individuals subscribe to whatever plan they want and let employees take home money to purchase insurance instead of the employer purchasing for it for them. Individual needs are different.

I do not think the government should be able to pick and choose the businesses that are required to carry health insurance for their workers.

I would prefer that the government not be involved in providing my health care. However, I also cannot continue to provide health insurance on my own through private insurers if they continue to increase premiums at the current rate. If I could not afford private insurance, I would hope that there would be some other option rather than no insurance. If that is a government policy, then so be it.

NASE Members: Do you have a comment to add about health reform or any of the topics mentioned above? I’d love to hear from you. Just leave a note below, drop us a line on Twitter (@NASEtweets or @koberlander) or visit our Facebook sites (Group and Fan pages) to weigh in.

The health care reform debate is constantly evolving. Here are some of the week’s top health care headlines to help keep you up-to-date on what’s being said:

Q+A – Where Does Health Care Reform Stand In US Congress? (Reuters)

Congress Considers Single Payer Health Care System (House Committee on Education and Labor): Lawmakers in the House recently held a hearing to examine the option of a single payer health care system amongst the many proposals for health care reform currently being discussed by legislators. Much of the debate was inspired by a bill that would establish a single payer system proposed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.). Rep. Conyers’ bill, The United States National Health Care Act (H.R. 676), would establish a publicly financed, privately administered universal health care system with single payer financing, based on improvements and expansion of the existing Medicare program.

Senate Committee Hears Many Opinions On Health Reform (Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions): The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions recently held a hearing on health care reform featuring the testimony of numerous witnesses from across the health care sector. Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), sitting in for Committee Chairman Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), stated that health care reform is an urgent issue and “delay is not an option.” On the other hand, Ranking Member Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) cautioned that “if we don’t get [health care reform] right, America will suffer. We shouldn’t be subject just to timetables; we should be subject to getting it right.”

Health debate to intensify (Atlanta Journal-Constitution): After weeks of relatively polite discussion about health care reform – the top item on President Barack Obama’s agenda – Congress and interest groups are beginning to draw battle lines as the first specific proposals emerge from Congress. The rhetoric will sharpen when Obama, who pushed change in a town hall meeting Thursday in Wisconsin, addresses the American Medical Association, the nation’s largest doctors’ group, in Chicago.

Obama Urges Health Care System Overhaul To The American Medical Association (Associated Press on YouTube)

If you’re a small business owner looking to weigh in on policy discussions, participating in a survey is one way to do that indirectly. Lawmakers often turn to organizations that represent the self-employed in Washington, DC when they need to find out how the community feels about a certain issue.

Here are two surveys – the first hosted by the NASE and another by the National Women’s Business Council. Each questionnaire should take less than 10 minutes to complete and is completely anonymous.

National health reform surveyThe data the NASE collects in this survey will be used to inform legislators at all levels of government about the perspective of the self-employed and micro-business on reforming health care.

Economic impact of women-owned businessesThis is the first time that this type of analysis has been undertaken for women-owned businesses nationwide and will help educate policy makers, corporate executives and organizations which support women-owned businesses.

President Obama’s nominee for associate justice on the Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, has begun meeting with Senators on Capitol Hill in preparation for the confirmation process. The meetings will serve as a preview of what she can expect during the Senate approval process in the coming weeks. During the confirmation hearings, the nominee will be asked to explain, defend and clarify her responses to a lengthy questionnaire from the Judiciary Committee.

Judge Sotomayor (bio) is currently a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York. She was tapped by President Barack Obama in late May to replace Justice David Souter, who has announced his plans to retire. Sotomayor has ruled in many high-profile cases, including issuing the initial injunction to end the Major League Baseball strike in the mid-1990s.

Here’s a great piece in the NY Times that lays out her most well-known rulings and opinions.

The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 (H.R. 627/S. 414), a bill designed to protect consumers from unsavory practices employed by credit card companies, was recently signed into law by President Barack Obama. The NASE was disappointed to see that an important amendment introduced by Senate Small Business Committee leadership, Senators Landrieu (D-La.) and Snowe (R-Maine), failed to pass. The amendment would have extended these protections to the business credit cards of firms with 50 or fewer employees. However, we still applaud the efforts of Congress and the Administration to increase transparency and consumer protections relating to these popular financing tools.

Click here for a fact sheet on the credit card reform law, or tune into YouTube to see President Obama explain the details of the new bill.

For more updates like this, please subscribe to Washington Watch, the NASE’s weekly e-Newsletter covering our legislative efforts here in Washington, D.C. on behalf of micro-businesses.

What wonderful people! This year’s National Small Business Week was jam-packed with stuff to learn about, people to meet, and old friends with which to reconnect.

The conference site was crammed with folks who care enormously about small businesses, either because they own one or they are with organizations/businesses that advocate for them.

Our very own Kristie Arslan, Executive Director of our DC office, even attended an event hosted by the White House.

I had a great time meeting with smarties like Duct Tape Marketing’s John Jantsch (blog) and Rieva Lesonsky of GrowBiz Media (Q&A).

Check out their sites when you have the time. Definitely worth a look!


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