For more than 30 years, when the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) surveys its members, they have said that their number one concern is the rising cost of health insurance. Recently, over 50 percent of the responders in Ohio cited it as a ‘critical’ problem in the NFIB Research Foundation’s Problems & Priorities.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, has not solved the problem. Instead, additional new taxes and mandates included in the bill have increased costs and reduced choices. Small businesses deserve health insurance that is affordable, flexible, and predictable. The US Senate now has the opportunity to do something about Obamacare.
As we travel the state, our members share how they have seen their premiums spiral out of control and in the some of the worst-case scenarios, they are priced out of the market and are forced to drop their health insurance plans entirely. Small business owners see their workforce as extended family and it hurts to have to explain to them how the realities of the rising costs of health insurance are impacting their ability to offer them a raise or continue this valuable benefit.
NFIB was the lead plaintiff before the United States Supreme Court in NFIB v. Sebelius challenging the constitutionality of the ACA. We have long supported repealing and replacing Obamacare. NFIB believes it is time for Ohio Senators Portman and Brown to act vote “yes” on the Senate plan, the Better Care Reconciliation Act.
The federal government’s own research, when looking at companies with 50 or less employees, nationally, shows 25 percent fewer small businesses even offer health insurance since the law’s enactment. In Ohio, it’s even worse. We are seeing a 31.7 percent net reduction in coverage. So not only does the law harm small businesses, but their employees as well.
The Senate bill proposes to remove mandated punitive penalties that discourage job creation, expansion, and investment. The bill also provides meaningful tax relief by eliminating or delaying a number of Obamacare’s most burdensome taxes that are driving up healthcare costs on small businesses and pushing them out of the market. By removing these impediments, it makes offering health insurance a much more realistic option.
Small businesses employ over two million Ohioans. Entrepreneurs are the engine that drives the state’s economy. Obamacare, in its current form, serves as an impediment to their ability to grow and add new jobs. Senators Portman and Brown can make a difference by enacting change that will truly help not only small businesses, but also those they employ. The time is now.
Roger Geiger is vice president and executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business, Ohio’s leading small-business association with 25,000 members across the state.