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Providing a Better Way on Health Care for Small Businesses, Working Families

Under Obamacare, small businesses have been hit hard by flawed mandates and soaring costs. An American Action Forum study reported:

Since [Obamacare] became law, among small businesses, the rise in premiums has been associated with $19 billion in lost wages, 10,130 fewer business establishments, and nearly 300,000 lost jobs ...

On top of higher costs, small businesses face limited health care plan options for their employees. As Joe Eddy, president and CEO of the family-owned Eagle Manufacturing Company, explained at a Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing:

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. … 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.

Scott Bollenbacher, an Indiana small business owner with eleven full-time employees, was forced to switch health care plans twice under Obamacare. In 2017, his only option was a plan with a 78 premium increase. He testified:

The experience has been frustrating and stressful. The increases and cancellations are unsustainable for small businesses … I want you all to know what is going on in the real world with “average Joes and Janes.” … We have been hurt badly by the cost increases caused by the ACA and request your assistance in fixing this issue. As you consider repealing and replacing the ACA, I encourage you to focus on lowering costs and increasing flexibility for small businesses.

Fortunately, House Republicans are working to repeal the failed health care law and replace it with commonsense reforms that help more Americans access high-quality, affordable health care. That includes reforms to level the playing field for small businesses who want to provide health insurance to their workers. 

Because of their size, small businesses lack the same level of bargaining power available to large businesses and labor organizations. And they are unable to band together to increase their bargaining power to help lower health care costs for their workers. The Small Business Health Fairness Act (H.R. 1101) would change that. 

Introduced by Reps. Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Tim Walberg (R-MI), H.R. 1101 empowers small businesses to band together through association health plans to negotiate for lower health insurance costs on behalf of their employees. The bill would:

  • Expand affordable coverage for working families who want to purchase health insurance through their employer.
  • Increase small businesses’ bargaining power with insurance providers and put them on a more level playing field with larger companies and unions. 
  • Lower administrative costs for small businesses with limited resources who want to provide health insurance to their employees.
  • Provide important protections to ensure plans are sustainable and individuals can count on their health care coverage when they need it.
  • Allow small businesses in different states to join together through a group health plan — a step toward purchasing insurance across state lines.

Through these reforms, the Small Business Health Fairness Act will help advance free-market health care solutions that drive down costs for workers — ensuring more Americans have access to affordable, patient-centered care. It’s an important part of a broader effort to provide families and small businesses a better way on health care.

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