SMALL BUSINESS HEALTH FAIRNESS ACT OF 2004
Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 638, I call up the bill (H.R. 4281) to amend title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to improve access and choice for entrepreneurs with small businesses with respect to medical care for their employees, and ask for its immediate consideration in the House.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
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Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
With all due respect to my good friend from Michigan, I think what we see here at the central issue of this debate is a basic distrust of the private sector. Now, two-thirds of the American people get their health insurance through their employer. We have an employer-based system in America, and it has worked very well; and some of the best coverage and the most high-quality health plans are offered by employers to their employees.
Today, both employers, and increasingly employees, are paying for the cost of those plans. What we are attempting to do here is to give small businesses who do not have big purchasing power in the marketplace the ability to join together and to offer the same kinds of plans that large companies and unions offer to their employees and members, give those small employers and their employees the same opportunity.
Plain and simple.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Tennessee (Mrs. Blackburn), a
member of the committee.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for his excellent work on this issue for our Nation's small businesses.
We know that those small businesses fuel this economic growth in our country, and we appreciate their efforts; and we know that our small business employees are being burdened paying on average 17 percent more for their health benefits than their counterparts at large companies.
I recently held a small business health care roundtable in my district and talked with these small business employers about their desire to make better health benefits available to their employees and still stay competitive. This legislation is an opportunity that Congress has to help bring about that affordable health care to millions of employees.
AHPs would save the typical small business owner between 15 and 30 percent on health insurance and help make that coverage available. As our chairman said, too often regulations and mandates add to the cost burden.
Current law exempts large employers and unions from State mandates so that they are able to offer quality benefits across State lines. The Small Business Health Fairness Act will give that same opportunity to our small businesses in this country.
This is a benefit that will help them to be competitive in the world market. It is bipartisan legislation. It passed overwhelmingly last year, and I urge all of my colleagues to support this commonsense legislation for our Nation's small businesses.