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Roadmap to healthcare reform

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POSTED: January 22, 2008 5:03 a.m.
We’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: Small businesses have said consistently for 20 years that access to affordable health care is their biggest concern and the problem is even greater today.
We’ve seen nearly 100 percent increases in premiums since 2000. On average, small business pays 18 percent more than large business for the same health care benefits. It’s clear that the bottom line for small-business people is the cost of health insurance and the growing expense of health care. And they go hand-in-hand.
Add to that the fact that small business creates approximately 70 percent of all new jobs in this country, and it’s clear to see we have a health care crisis on our hands, and not just for small businesses, their employees and their dependents, but for everyone. 
Discussions to date have focused on affordability, coverage or quality. To small-business people, this is not a multiple-choice question. The answer is “D, all of the above.” We simply can’t address the health care crisis unless we address affordability, coverage and quality as part of a total solution.
For that reason, the National Federation of Independent Business has developed a set of 10 principles that must form the foundation for any comprehensive health care reform effort. We have built upon our extensive research and brought in some of the best and brightest health care policy experts from across the political spectrum to gain their perspective on health care reform.
We’ve taken the best ideas to form these principles. As an example:
• Universal coverage: This does not mean a government-run, single-payer system. It means that everyone should have access to quality care that is affordable and that provides protection against catastrophic costs.
• Affordable: We want to provide access to quality care for all Americans, so we’ve got to address both the cost of health insurance and the increasing cost of health care.
• Private and Competitive: Health care reform needs to take place within a private and, most importantly, a competitive marketplace with real choices for consumers.
• Portable. Americans should be able to go from job to job without the risk of losing their health insurance. Otherwise, you have a form of “job lock” where people are reluctant to go out and start a new business for fear of losing their health insurance. That is fundamentally unhealthy for the American economy. We want people to go out and start new enterprises, to have new ideas and take risks, so that our economy can continue to create jobs.
• We will share these core principles with policymakers and use them to guide the development of more specific policy initiatives. With the presidential campaigns kicking into high gear and health care at the top of the domestic agenda, the time is right to set the table for reform in 2009. Since small businesses and their employees make up the largest segment of the uninsured population, it’s critically important for them to have a seat at that table. With these principles, small business is giving policymakers a significant roadmap to navigate through the maze of options. Our message? When the health care system is fixed for small business, it’s fixed for all Americans.
To read more about health care reform and all 10 principles, please go to www.NFIB.com/healthcare.

Stottlemyer is president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business in Washington, D.C.
 

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