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SBAM delegates hear from Obama

March 29, 2013

By Mike Marzano

Small business leaders from SBAM, along with the National Small Business Association (SBAM’s national affiliate), made the trip to our nation’s capital the week of March 25 to bring to the forefront of national attention the
issues that are of vital concern to small business.  In our discussions with Representatives, Senators, and even the President of the United States, SBAM made sure to let our leaders know what the future of small business looks like with current policies being discussed.  

Our trip began with a discussion with Jim Nussle, former chair of the House Budget Committee and former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush.  He explained that currently, with our partisan culture, there are many issues that both the right and left could find common ground on, but due to the nature of how congressional districts are created our elected officials are in seats that are far too safe for them to have to compromise.  The end result – stalemate.

After this spirited discussion, the group made their way to the White House for what was scheduled to be a briefing by some of the President’s top economic advisers.  Alan Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and a member of the President’s Cabinet, began to give an introduction to the outlook for small business in the United States when an unannounced guest interrupted him.  President Obama walked into the room and gave remarks about the importance of small business to his administration and to the economic health of the country.  He took several questions from the audience, including a couple regarding the impact of the Affordable Care Act, especially dealing with health care costs and the burden that small business owners would bear in the aftermath of full enactment of the law.  

Our last day in Washington started with a Congressional breakfast that included remarks form several members of the Republican and Democratic parties form across the country.  Following breakfast, our day was filled with overtures to Michigan’s Congressional Delegation to let them know the opportunities they would have coming up to assist small business owners — mainly dealing with health care issues involved with the Affordable Care Act. 

After meeting with Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and Representatives John Dingell, Mike Rogers, and Bill Huizenga, we were encouraged that each legislator took time to meet with us and listen to our concerns.  We pointed out that there are a lot of moving parts to the Affordable Care Act. How it will impact businesses that still offer group health insurance is nearly impossible to predict, but what is not hard to predict is the trend in which things seem to be moving.  We asked them to consider just these components:

  • 3:1 rate bands and pricing pressure on the younger end of the band
  • Affordable Care Act tax on health insurers, prescription drugs, and durable medical equipment – we believe that the taxes will all be passed through to the end user
  • New coverage requirements for preventive care and Essential Health Benefits
  • 3.5% charge to carriers for putting a plan on the Health Insurance Exchange
  • Affordable Care Act reinsurance program – essentially another cost shift from the group side of the business to the individual side, coupled with what looks to be Michigan premiums propping up some other states (it is likely that Michigan will be a “donor state” in that the dollars generated in Michigan and sent to Washington will be returned at a rate of between 62 percent and 65 percent).

At the end of the day, our staff and our board members made the case for small business to our state’s (and nation’s) leaders.  To the point of whether they will listen to the small business community or not, only time will tell.

Photo courtesy of NSBA

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