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 Regulation Legislation
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Comments

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I have been in business for 21 years. Last year we almost decided not to offer Health Ins. It's cost us over $121,000 for 25 employees.
If we could buy health insuarnce through the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Asso. or a similar group, we'd save 35,000 a year.
I have a better idea.
Let all Americans & companies buy their health insurance {the same rate & the same plan the Federal Employees do. It's amazing not one Senator or House member has offered a bill allowing this.

I wonder why.

Posted by: Mike | July 24, 2008 1:13 PM

Major Medical + HSA + ee participation.
1) open up ins mkt for enhanced competition
2) ee ownership by spending in part own money
3) teach ee how to shop & ask price before service for other than emergency services.
4) reward ee for wise use of medical services
5) allow and promote small business buying groups to better conpete in market.
6) keep gov out of it if you want it to work!

Posted by: jamcminn | July 24, 2008 3:30 PM

Mike the reason the government plan isn't offered in the private sector is that you couldn't afford it.

Posted by: Barry | July 24, 2008 6:10 PM

Barry,
Perhaps the federal employees couldn't afford it either, if non-federal employees were't paying for it. And perhaps the House, who actually tried to pass interstate group health care legislation in Bush's first administration, only to be foiled by the Senate, will try again. If not , it would be satisfying to see the millions of small business people and their employees vote all the incumbents out of office in November. And do it before there are more taxpayer-funded government employees than non, not to mention the insurance companies who fund those incumbents' full time quest for reelection at any cost .

Posted by: Dick D'Alton | July 26, 2008 12:57 PM

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