Washington, DC— Five Democratic Senators today gave back-to-back speeches on the Senate floor discussing the need to focus on small businesses when considering health care reform. Without the right reforms, the health care costs for small businesses are expected to increase from $156 billion today to almost $2.4 trillion by 2018, according to a report by the Small Business Majority. The Senators made the following comments:

“Without the worry of high health costs, small businesses will be able to get back to what they do best: creating jobs, encouraging entrepreneurship, growing our economy and keeping our nation competitive in the global arena,” U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary Landrieu of Louisiana said. “Today, it is more important than ever for us in Congress to work together to bring about these needed health care reforms and help small businesses.”

“If we do nothing, small businesses are going to see this escalator of costs go up for health insurance. Small businesses should be able to negotiate with insurance companies to drive down the costs of their health plans,” Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington said. “That’s why we need to give small business the same kind of negotiating power that large companies have to negotiate for benefits.”

“Small businesses are essential to our economy, and we must control health care costs and relieve the financial burden facing so many small businesses in New Hampshire and across the nation,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. “I urge my colleagues to work together to pass comprehensive health reform legislation because employers should not have to choose between keeping their doors open and offering health care to their employees.”

“If we do not pass health insurance reform, small business owners will continue to see the cost of providing healthcare coverage to their employees eat away at their bottom line. In my home state of Colorado, premium costs for small businesses are projected to more than double over the next decade,” Sen. Udall of Colorado said. “These unsustainable cost increases not only harm current businesses, but they also prevent the growth of new ones. Enacting meaningful health reform is necessary for ensuring productive small businesses, new American jobs, and a strong economy.”

“Today, small businesses are the only group who still pay retail for their health care coverage,” said Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia. “With fewer employees, they lack the bargaining power of large firms and pay as much as 18 percent more for the same health insurance as larger companies. But if we do health care reform right, it will give small businesses and their employees more affordable options.”