One concern we hear over and over in the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee from our nation's 27 million small businesses - the businesses that employ more than half America's workforce - is healthcare. Seventy-eight percent of small businesses recently reported that having access to stable, affordable, quality health insurance is their number one concern.

Skyrocketing premiums are crushing these businesses as they face yearly premium increases of as much as 20 percent for the past four years. These high costs have forced many small business owners to drop coverage altogether causing small business employers, employees and their families to make up nearly 23 million of American's 45 million uninsured. Most small business owners want to offer health insurance to their workers. But for small firms faced with the choice of cutting employees or cutting health insurance, the insurance is the first to go. And unfortunately, those who can afford to pay the least are today paying the most, and they're getting less bang for their buck. Small firms pay 18 percent more than large employers for health insurance.

As our nation's innovators and job creators, the cost of doing nothing to help small businesses is just too great. Without reform, we could lose 178,000 jobs and spend nearly $2.4 trillion on healthcare in the next ten years. With even a limited reform scenario, small businesses would save $546 billion and thousands of jobs in that same ten-year period.

In the Committee we are devoted to working with Congress and the Administration to pass and implement robust health care reforms that make small businesses a top priority. After all, keeping our small businesses healthy means keeping our economy healthy, and that begins with stable, affordable health insurance choices.

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