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Small Businesses Urge Congress to Deliver Relief from Obamacare

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), held a hearing today to examine the failures and consequences of the 2010 health care law and to discuss patient-centered solutions toward better, more affordable health care.
 
“For nearly seven years, Americans have struggled as they’ve seen their health care costs skyrocket, their plans canceled and their choices and access to quality care diminished,” Chairwoman Foxx said. “That is why for nearly seven years, Republicans have been fighting to provide the relief Americans desperately need.”
 
Small businesses gave first-hand accounts of how Obamacare has increased costs, limited choices, and made it harder to provide health care coverage for employees. 
 
“As a small business, we are a close-knit family. Our employees are much more than ‘employees.’ They are our friends,” Scott Bollenbacher, founder of an accounting firm, said. “We want to provide for them, provide benefits, and help them any way we can. We know that our success as a business depends on our team.”
 
But in 2014, it became nearly impossible for Bollenbacher to continue providing health care benefits to his employees when their insurance plan was canceled because of Obamacare. His only option was switching to a plan that led to a 78 percent premium increase. 
 
“Shopping for the right plan is complicated for us because the firm is close to the Indiana-Ohio border, and our employees live in both states. We must find a policy that is accepted by doctors and hospitals on both sides of the state line,” Bollenbacher said. “The experience has been frustrating and stressful. The increases and cancellations are unsustainable for small businesses.”
 
Joe Eddy, president and CEO of the family-owned Eagle Manufacturing Company, is also struggling to provide quality, affordable coverage for his 195 employees. Since 2009, health insurance costs per employee have increased by nearly 70 percent. 
 
“Manufacturers have a proud tradition of providing health insurance for their employees,” Eddy said. "Unfortunately, the past few years under [the law] have made it more difficult to live up to the standards we have set for ourselves. Rising health care costs have forced us to make difficult choices, and [the law] has further limited our options."
 
Eddy emphasized the need to expand options for small businesses to offer coverage for their employees, saying, "Businesses such as ours need flexibility and competitive options so that we can always find the best and most cost-effective plan for our employees."
 
Dr. Trevi Troy, head of the American Health Policy Institute, urged Congress to deliver a pathway for better, more patient-centered care, while also protecting employers — like Bollenbacher and Eddy — who want to meet the needs of their employees and promote a healthy workforce.
 
“Our policy should not be to increase the burdens or costs on employers and the 177 million employees and dependents who get coverage through the employer-based system, but to encourage that coverage for the benefit of our system as a whole,” Dr. Troy said.
 
He went on to explain the important role employers play in health care reform and developing innovative solutions that drive down costs, saying, “Federal policies should leverage and encourage flexibility in employer-sponsored health care benefits to enable large employers to continue to make these innovations.”
 
As Congress moves forward with a responsible approach to repealing and replacing Obamacare, committee members will continue to explore positive reforms that will protect and empower small businesses so they can provide their employees with patient-centered, affordable health care.
 
“We are on a rescue mission to deliver the relief people need, and this committee will play an important role in the process,” Chairwoman Foxx said. “We’re going to do this the right way … We will tackle the challenges of our broken health care system through step-by-step solutions that provide lower costs, more choices, and protect the most vulnerable among us.”

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