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SBAM asks Michigan congressional delegation to focus on reforms that will help small business and individuals afford access to quality health insurance

September 15, 2009

SBAM asks Michigan congressional delegation to focus on reforms that will help small business and individuals afford access to quality health insurance.

SBAM sent the following letter to members of Michigan’s congressional delegation:

Dear Senator/Representative:

As you return from break and take up the debate regarding health care reform, I urge you to focus on reforms that will help small business and individuals afford access to quality health insurance.

Our position on health care issues recognizes the important economic role that small businesses play and the current status of health care issues in our country. Historically, SBAM, as an organization of small businesses, has favored incremental market-based reforms that encourage participation of consumers and purchasers. As one of the nation’s largest small company group-purchasing programs, our experience and those of other small business organizations across the country show that many of the access, and some affordability, problems can be addressed through market-based reforms. If we are serious about reform, we must be dedicated to the empowerment of the people who pay the bills – the customers.
Sustainable and workable reform is difficult business and will impact our country for decades to come. We cannot overstress the importance of this effort to the Michigan delegation and your colleagues from across the country; take your time in drafting legislation, consider the consequences and the unintended consequences and remember who pays the bills. Please consider:

  • The single biggest difficulty that small businesses have with health care is cost. The bills currently being considered will not reform the costs in the health care system. Simply put, they fail to bring down the cost of health care and, therefore, health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has said that H.R. 3200 lacks the necessary controls on spending, and that it will make our long-term outlook on budget deficits worse.
  • One of the most famous quotes from Abraham Lincoln reads, “You don’t make a weak man strong by making a strong man weak” but the House bill imposes taxes, fees and penalties of $800 billion over ten years that will add new costs to those currently covered. Taxing those currently covered to pay for those currently uninsured will drive more people to drop coverage and will have the exact opposite impact that some desire.
  • A government-run public health insurance plan will crowd out private insurance through an unlevel playing field. Please recognize the public plan for what it is – the first step on a path to nationalized health insurance.
  • Take time to understand that the uninsured are not one homogeneous group and that “one size fits all” reform will not work. Of the 47 million uninsured: 4.7 million (10%) are college students; 10 million (21.28%) are non-citizens; 11 million (23.40%) are eligible for, but not enrolled in public programs like SCHIP and Medicaid; 9 million (19.15%) live in a household with annual income above $75,000. These numbers total 34.7 million of the 47 million uninsured. Said differently, 12 million are what most people consider as making too much for a public program and not enough to afford coverage. It is for these people that a solution needs to be found.

The Small Business Association of Michigan urges you to oppose the current bills and draft bipartisan legislation that builds on the system that today works for 85% of all Americans. In what setting other than health care would anyone recommend radically upending a system that works 85% of the time for the 15% that doesn’t work?

What is the role of the federal government? Consider this package of reform:

  • Concentrate on making health care more affordable and accessible by working on efforts to contain the costs and improve the quality of care through best-practice guidelines, pay for performance, by making objective and understandable information available on medical practices and protocols so that patients and their doctors can have intelligent conversations about a treatment plan that works for them.
  • Create federal standards for interoperable electronic medical records to unify the nation’s healthcare system and reduce errors, waste, fraud and abuse.
  • Require every American to be covered with a Basic Health Care Plan either through their employer’s plan, an individual plan or a government safety net program.
  • Pass insurance reform that requires guaranteed issue of insurance, limited or no pre-existing conditions, and strict rules on re-underwriting or recession of insurance.
  • Medical Malpractice/Tort Reform – any true reform must recognize that the current system of medical malpractice adds billions of dollars unnecessarily to our system, but does not work for the harmed patient or the provider.

We agree that reform is needed, but it is a tough putt and it must be done right. All of Michigan’s citizens and the country deserve your best effort and not a partisan, closed process. Please find the common ground that gets at the true problem – COST.
Thank you.

Scott Lyon
SBAM Vice President, Small Business Services

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