For more than 20 years, small businesses have said healthcare costs are their No. 1 issue. Premium increases are placing an overwhelming burden on small business owners while their employees struggle with large deductibles and diminished access to care. The small business community needs comprehensive healthcare reform to address its unique concerns.
In 1994, a healthcare reform package was introduced that did not sufficiently address the needs of all Americans. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) was a vocal opponent of those reforms and, members of Congress agreed and the legislation never became law. But according to NFIB, the problem has become a crisis. In an effort to help with the delivery of real and meaningful solutions, the NFIB announced its plans last week to embark on a nationwide campaign to engage policymakers, legislators, and the next administration on this critical issue.
NFIB has launched Solutions Start Here, an aggressive healthcare reform campaign to urge policymakers to deliver real and meaningful healthcare reform for small business. Kicking off the campaign, NFIB sent a letter on March 11 to the presidential candidates challenging them to develop reform proposals that support the backbone of the U.S. economy--small businesses. To get involved with Solutions Start Here, visit www.FixedForAmerica.com.
To get involved with NFIB's healthcare reform campaign, visit www.FixedForAmerica.com.
More than 15 years ago, comprehensive reform was introduced that did not adequately consider the unique situation of small businesses. Finding real solutions requires the cooperation of diverse, bipartisan groups willing to work together for change. Over the past decade, insurance premiums have continued to increase each year, jumping 129 percent in the last eight years. Today, small business owners, a voting bloc larger than soccer moms and NASCAR dads, are insisting that action be taken to address their healthcare crisis.
For comprehensive healthcare reform to become a reality, the unique needs of small business must be fully addressed. To help guide lawmakers in this effort, NFIB developed their Small Business Principles for Healthcare Reform as a framework for future healthcare reform.
Small Business Principles
Our current system of health insurance and health care is financially unsustainable and threatens the health and financial security of the American people. Small business owners and their employees are especially vulnerable to the weaknesses of our current system. NFIB supports policy reforms to balance the competing goals of access to quality care, affordability, predictability and consumer choice. The resulting healthcare system would be:
Universal: All Americans should have access to quality care and protection against catastrophic costs. A government safety net should enable the neediest to obtain coverage. This does not mean a government-run, single-payer system.
Private: To the greatest extent possible, Americans should receive their health insurance and healthcare through the private sector. Care must be taken to minimize the extent to which governmental safety nets crowd out private insurance and care.
Affordable: Healthcare costs to individuals, providers, governments and businesses must be reasonable, predictable and controllable.
Unbiased: Healthcare and tax laws should not push Americans into employer-provided or government-provided insurance programs and hobble the market for individually purchased policies. Small employers should be treated the same as large employers, who can already pool across state lines. A healthcare system built on employer mandates or on play-or-pay taxes is unacceptable.
Competitive: Consumers should have many choices among insurers and providers. Policymakers must alleviate the limitations that state boundaries and treatment mandates place on competitiveness.
Portable: Americans should be able to move throughout the United States and change jobs without losing their health insurance.
Transparent: Information technology should enable all parties to access accurate, user-friendly information on costs, quality and outcomes. Providers must be able to obtain relatively complete medical histories of patients. At the same time, patients' privacy must be guarded zealously. The private sector must play a vital role in developing the new technologies.
Efficient: Healthcare policy should encourage an appropriate level of spending on healthcare. Laws, regulations and insurance arrangements should direct healthcare spending to those goods and services that will maximize health. Adequate risk pools throughout the healthcare system are vital to accomplishing these goals.
Evidence-based: The healthcare system must encourage consumers and providers to accumulate evidence and to use that evidence to improve health. Appropriate treatment choices and better wellness and preventive care should be key outcomes.
Realistic: Healthcare reform should proceed as rapidly as possible, but not so quickly that firms and individuals cannot adjust prudently. It is important to ensure that no one's quality of care suffers as we move to provide coverage for all Americans.
The National Federation of Independent Business is the leading advocacy organization representing small and independent businesses. A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 1943, NFIB represents the consensus views of its members in Washington and all 50 state capitals.