Health Care Bill Garners Wide Range of Support
Reps. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) unveiled their new health care bill today before a full meeting room in the House of Representative's Longworth Building.
I chatted with Jim Helsel before the event where he gave a speech on behalf of the National Association of Realtors supporting the measure.
Helsel, who works at a small realty firm with about 50 employees in Pennsylvania, told the Small Business Blog that the realtors' group supports the bill because "it begins to allow us to provide our members with affordable health care that to date we've been unable to receive."
The association, which has 1.25 million members, is comprised of many micro firms as most realtors are independent contractors who must find and pay for their own insurance.
Marcia Salkin, NAR's managing director of public policy, said the group has only really gotten involved in health insurance debates during the last six years and it's only been in the last five years or so that members have been truly "feeling the pain" of health care premiums and related issues.
The House Small Business Committee said that according to calculations made by experts, the measure could help self-employed individuals save as much as $5,000 each while businesses could save more than 34 percent.
Both Pitts, who ran a family nursery for 30 years before becoming a lawmaker, and Velazquez stressed that the measure will help small firms remain competitive.
The event showcased a variety of other supporters including the National Roofing Contractors Association, International Franchise Association, National Restaurant Association, National Federation of Independent Business and the National Association for the Self-Employed.
The NASE recently released a study showing that the percentage of micro business owners who offer a plan that covers all or some of their full-time employees has dropped from 46.2 percent in 2005 to 18.6 percent in 2008.
NFIB Executive Vice President for Public Policy Dan Danner said small businesses under current law "don't enjoy the same tax breaks, coverage or pooling options as large businesses or corporations. As a result they pay an average of 18 percent more for the same health care benefits, and have seen their health care premiums increase 129 percent over the last eight years."
By Sharon McLoone |
July 23, 2008; 5:04 PM ET
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