WASHINGTON – United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, today held a hearing to better understand the needs of small businesses in health care reform and to examine whether the current proposals meet those needs.
“We are here today to discuss one of the most critical issues facing small businesses in America today: the rising cost of health care and to review and analyze the work of both the Senate HELP and Finance Committees,” Sen. Landrieu said. “Many of us here in Washington, including myself, Ranking Member Snowe and President Obama, have said that the quality, affordable health care choices we have access to through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program should be available to all Americans. In Congress, we know that with the right level of rules and regulations and with a large enough pool to spread risk, these exchanges can work. We know this because we are part of one.
“The Finance bill creates an expansive, individual and private insurance exchange that increases competition by creating another choice and pools people together to lower costs. It also provides tax credits and other incentives to help businesses provide coverage and encourage workers to enter the exchange,” Senator Landrieu said. “This bill is a step in the right direction because small businesses – and all Americans – can’t go another pay check without meaningful reform.”
“When it comes to the small business health insurance crisis that has plagued this country for years, the status quo is simply unacceptable,” said Ranking Member Snowe. “According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, while 98 percent of large firms offer health coverage, only 46 percent of our smallest businesses, those with fewer than 10 employees, are able to provide this vital benefit – an 18 percent decline in offer rates in this decade alone. We must reverse this pernicious trend by passing comprehensive reform that includes critical provisions from the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP Act that I reintroduced with Senators Durbin and Lincoln earlier this year. Additionally, I plan to take into account the immensely valuable perspectives of today’s witnesses as this herculean process moves forward.”
Without reform, health care costs are expected to continue to rise. In the next decade costs for small businesses will go from $156 billion today to almost $2.4 trillion in 2018 and 178,000 small business jobs will be lost, according to the advocacy group Small Business Majority. Employees will go from spending almost $11,000 a year today to nearly $29,000, the nonpartisan group Business Roundtable says.
To read Senator Landrieu’s opening statement, view witness testimony or watch the hearing, please click here.