Washington, DC— Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin, Senate Small Business Committee Chair Mary Landrieu and Senators Blanche Lincoln and Jeff Merkley were joined by Terry Gardiner of the Small Business Majority and Mark Derbyshire, a Maryland small business owner at a press conference today where they discussed how health care reform efforts will help ease economic pressure on small businesses. A recent study by the White House Council of Economic Advisers noted that small businesses pay up to 18 percent more than they should to provide health insurance for their employees because of the flaws in the current health insurance system. Democrats want to reform health insurance to give small businesses tax credits so they can give their employees comprehensive and affordable health care.
“More than half of all Americans without health insurance are small business owners, employees and their dependents,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Durbin. “The Democratic reform bill will give small businesses across the country health care plans with stable and affordable costs; secure coverage that can’t be taken away; and more choices of quality health care plans.”
“I have heard one primary concern over and over again from small businesses – health care costs are spiraling out of control and they are hurting our small firms,” said Sen. Landrieu, Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business Committee and Entrepreneurship. “Because of skyrocketing premiums, when owners are faced with the choice of cutting employees or cutting health insurance, the insurance is the first to go. This hurts small businesses’ ability to compete with big businesses for top talent and affects their bottom line. Our small businesses need a quality, affordable health insurance option, stable costs, secure choices and an organized marketplace that works for everyone. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to ensure the right kind of reform for our small businesses.”
“An Arkansas small business owner recently told me that he is giving up his 17-year-old business because he can no longer afford his rising health care insurance premiums,” said Sen. Lincoln of the Senate Finance Committee. “His wife and his daughter each have a pre-existing medical condition, and he feels pressure to find a new job that provides affordable employer-sponsored coverage for his family. Similar stories of hardship and frustration are being played out for other Arkansas small business owners and employees under the current health care system. Since 2004, I have worked to address the small business health care crisis, and it is time for Congress to help those whose top priority is access to quality, affordable, and stable health care for their employees and their families.”
“The current health care system is a nightmare for small businesses,” said Sen. Merkley of the Senate HELP Committee. “Rising premiums make it difficult to provide coverage for their employees, but they don’t want to leave their valued employees without insurance. Giving small businesses the option to join health insurance exchanges will protect small businesses from the runaway health premiums that cost jobs, stifle innovation, and put a brake on our economy.”
"Small businesses are crying out for healthcare reform. Opinion research we’ve conducted in 14 states over the past few months shows small business owners won’t stand by and watch skyrocketing healthcare costs slash their bottom line," said Terry Gardiner, National Policy Director of Small Business Majority. "They feel a responsibility to provide healthcare to their employees, and are willing to help in fixing our broken system. They feel it’s not only the right thing to do, but necessary for their financial survival."
“My employees are very important, and I invest a lot in them because I want to attract people who will stay for the long haul,” said small business owner, Mark Derbyshire. “But with costs rising like they are, I don’t know if I can continue offering the same level of coverage. Without it, I would not be able to attract and keep the same caliber of employee. I feel a moral obligation to provide health insurance, but the current employer-based system is not sustainable for small businesses.”