NEW: ARA Press Release (PDF) - Posted April 2, 2008
Lincoln-Snowe Sense of Senate (PDF) - Posted August 8, 2007
There are two basic issues facing all Americans when it comes to buying health care. One is availability and the other is affordability. Over 46 million American workers are uninsured because they cannot find health care or they cannot afford it. Many employers want to provide basic health benefits to their employees but cannot afford the double-digit increases in health insurance premiums. State regulation of health insurance plans creates enormous regulatory barriers to such an extent that there are literally 50 separate and unique health insurance markets in America regulated by the states.
Many small businesses that want to purchase health insurance for their employees cannot afford the rates available to them. In some states, insurance for small firms is only available through state-operated risk pools or from a single carrier. Moreover, even when coverage is available, small firms are usually unable to negotiate favorable rates because their businesses do not represent a significant portion of the insurer’s portfolio. Some ARA members report increases of as much as 40 percent annually over the last several years. States do not fully regulate all health insurance plans providing insurance to their citizens. Federal law preempting state regulations allows large firms and unions to provide affordable health care to their employees and members. Federal employees also participate in a system that provides both access and choice to meet their health insurance needs.
Efforts to make health insurance more accessible to small businesses have failed to be enacted into law. The victims of this Congressional inaction are small business owners and their employees. Costs have continued to go up and coverage has been eroded leading to more and more uninsured working Americans. ARA and our member businesses are eager to work with Members of the 110th Congress to find solutions to the problem of access and affordability of health insurance for small businesses. Recently Senators Durbin (D-IL), Snowe (R-ME), Lincoln (D-AR) and Coleman (R-MN) introduced S. 2795 The Small Business Health Options Act of 2008 (SHOP). ARA and many other groups representing small businesses fully support SHOP.
ARA urges Members of the Senate to cosponsor S. 2795. We urge Members of the House to introduce a comprehensive bipartisan bill that provides affordable health care options for small businesses.