Robert F. Graboyes

Robert F. Graboyes

Robert F. Graboyes is the senior health care adviser at the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) in Washington, D.C.

Disaster turns to disgrace

NO! The only thing those compromises accomplished was securing support for a bill that fails to lower insurance premiums and that will increase the cost of doing business for America's job creators: small business. From the beginning of the health-care reform debate, everyone said that reform was going to be all about helping small business. They were continually hailed as the constituency most in need of reform and that most needed to help develop solutions to the health-care crisis.

But a strange thing happened on the way to producing that so-called meaningful legislation for our nation's job creators. It got sidetracked and became all about getting to 60 votes in a do-whatever, give-whatever, promise-whatever marathon session to mollify special interests, pacify big business and appease unions. As a result of the horse-trading and deal-making, small business, which had the most to gain, is going to lose out on affordable coverage, lose on the promise of more choices and lose their wallets paying for all of these new taxes. And still, they won't see any decrease in their ever-increasing insurance premiums. In fact, faster increases in premiums are the likeliest possibility.

One of the worst deals -- one that directly harms small business, and has largely flown under-the-radar -- is the small-business health insurance tax. Unlike large businesses, which self-insure and find security under the blanket of Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), most small businesses are unable to self-insure and can only find and purchase insurance in the fully-insured marketplace. The Senate bill imposes a new $60 billion dollar tax that falls almost exclusively on small business (confirmed in the recent CBO report) because the fee (tax) is assessed on the insurance companies that small businesses buy from. As a result of the Manager's Amendment to H.R. 3590, the price tag of this tax is even larger on small businesses in certain states because the revised legislation provides exemptions to self-insured businesses and not-for-profit insurers. As a result of these deals, expensive new costs will fall even harder and more directly on small business, a group that already pays 18 percent more for the same coverage. And, as if that hike in the small-business insurance tax weren't enough, the Senate has stuffed an additional piece of coal in the small business stocking. One can only assume that, in an effort to appease unions, the Manager's Amendment includes a new health-care mandate on construction companies, requiring them to provide coverage or pay penalties if they have more than five employees, instead of the 50-employee threshold for most other companies. Once again, a backroom deal has added a provision to this so-called reform package -- one that will destroy economic growth that small business could have provided. Clearly, reform that was supposed to be all about small business has turned out to be all about big business and other late-night deal makers, all at the expense of our nation's job creators.

The destruction this bill will bring to small business cannot be overstated.

By Robert F. Graboyes  |  December 21, 2009; 8:29 PM ET  | Category:  Health Care Reform , Insurance Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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