NASE on Micro-Business

Posts Tagged ‘health care

From day one the Obama Administration has been touting that they were going to foster a different kind of government. Transparency, participation and communication were going to be front and center. As I work on health care reform however, it is evident that Congress unfortunately didn’t get the memo on this new citizen-friendly, collaborative process.

Recently, I spoke about the micro-business perspective on mandates at a briefing sponsored by the Coalition for Affordable Health Coverage. In my concluding remarks, I highlighted that our recent survey of micro-businesses showed that while they want government involvement in regulating the insurance market, they did not want the federal government to provide coverage. In other words, thumbs down for the public option. Needless to say, shoes almost started flying from some of the audience members and I received some heated comments during the question and answer period. Sadly, this was not the first time I have experienced this reaction when the topic of the public option is raised amongst its staunch supporters.

Now, I certainly don’t want to be a partisan complainer. I’ve had similar experiences with staff from the other side of the aisle when discussing additional health reform recommendations such as mandates and market reforms.

Aren’t we able to disagree respectfully? Shouldn’t all voices be heard, not just the ones that agree with you?What is so disheartening is that the self-employed and micro-businesses want reform. No, we NEED health care reform. In fact, we support almost every other reform recommendation out there – such as creation of an exchange or connector, cooperatives, market reforms like guaranteed issue and even mandates with the right mix of subsidies and cost containment mechanisms. Yet, it seems that all bets are off because we prefer to get our health insurance from a private insurer versus the federal government.

Maybe we can’t do it all when it comes to health reform, but there are options on the table that we all agree on that can really help our small business owners. A difference of opinion on one issue should not preclude collaborating and compromising on a reform approach. Yet the ire of both political parties is brewing and bubbling up regarding health reform, threatening to undermine any chance of providing micro-business owners and all Americans with access to meaningful, affordable coverage.

My outlook can be summed up in one word: disappointment. We were hoping for change, we were promised change yet it seems like all we are getting is more of the same from Congress.

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.

President Barack Obama spoke via ABC News’ “Nightline” to Americans about health care reform during a special edition of the program from the White House on June 24, 2009. The President specifically addressed the concerns of the self-employed and small business owners in response to a question from Gary Cloutier, a self-employed body shop owner from Massachusetts, who is currently unable to afford health insurance.

President Obama’s comments on the self-employed and health care reform start at the 4:00 mark of this video clip of the interview.

The other clips of the interview are also well worth watching!

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)

Here in the NASE’s legislative offices, we were excited to see the Equity for Our Nation’s Self-Employed Act of 2009 introduced in the House and Senate last month.  The legislation would eliminate the cost penalties in health insurance imposed on sole proprietors and make quality health care more affordable for Americans who make up the majority of the working uninsured.  The self-employed are the only group of American workers required to pay 15.3% in self-employment taxes on their health insurance premiums, an unfair burden on the smallest of businesses. 

Interested in learning more about the bill?  The Library of Congress’ THOMAS is a great resource for information on legislation.  You can read the text of House bill H.R. 1470, and its companion bill S. 725 in the Senate, and see if your representatives and senators have lent their support to the bill as cosponsors. 

Want to tell the NASE why you support this legislation, or better yet find contact information for your representatives and senators and tell them why you support the bill?  Visit the NASE’s Legislative Action Center to share your story with us and simply enter your zip code for contact information for your elected representatives.


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