On Small Business Health Care
Small businesses all over Arkansas are struggling to pay increasing health care premiums, which is why I had hoped the Senate this week would approve legislation to allow employees of small business owners and the self-employed to be pooled together in order to obtain quality, affordable health care coverage. Unfortunately, the bill proposed by Senator Mike Enzi offered the wrong prescription. By not including reasonable federal protections and exempting insurers from laws that have been enacted by states to protect patients, Arkansans would risk losing guaranteed coverage for emergency services, hospice care, mental health, mammography screenings, and diabetic supplies. These protections are necessary to ensure patients receive the care they deserve because insurance companies are more often concerned about their bottom line than a patient's health. This bill also was opposed by over 40 state Attorneys General. This bill could have been improved through the amendment process; however, the Senate Majority Leader prevented any amendments from being given serious consideration. I commend Senator Blanche Lincoln for introducing a more sensible bill, which I co-sponsored, that allows small businesses to band together without compromising state protection laws. I will continue to press the Senate leadership to return to this matter, particularly to Senator Lincoln's bill, so that employers can provide affordable health coverage without breaking the bank.