SMALL BUSINESS HEALTH FAIRNESS ACT OF 2004 -- (House of Representatives - May 13, 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.
-BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT-
Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, those regulatory requirements are not on the GEs that we talked about, they are not on the Teamsters, they are not on other big employer or union plans. They are governed under a Federal statute called ERISA that has worked very well to insure and provide the basis for health insurance in America, and we ought to trust small businesses that would join these associations and give them the same rights that big companies and unions have.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Kingston).
Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Boehner) for yielding me this time.
I want to talk about this as a former insurance agent. I sold property and casualty insurance to small businesses all over Georgia before I came to Congress. I was not in the health care business, but quite frequently my clients would come to me and say, Can you help us with health care? Can you point us in the right direction? So I have some knowledge of it on the ground from the perspective of a pet store, a barber shop, a brick mason, small employers with 5 to 15 people.
What their problem is, they have been priced out of the health care business because we insist through state-mandated benefit that they have to buy a Cadillac insurance plan. They cannot buy a stripped down Toyota; they have to buy the Cadillac with all of the options. That is what we are doing. Because of that, that brick mason with seven employees says to his employees, We cannot do health care any more. If your wife or somebody in your family cannot put you on as a dependent, you do not have any health care.
What this plan does is it gets uninsured employees back in the business of health insurance, those employees who are making too much money for Medicaid, for example, and workers comp is only going to cover them on the job. This gives them access to the health care. It makes it affordable because that brick mason, that pet store, that barber shop can combine with other similar businesses all around the country, and they can go into the marketplace with the economy of scale, the buying clout which the GEs and big unions have, and then they can have affordable health care. It gives relief from some of these mandated benefits. A mandated benefit is not necessarily bad; but if you require someone to have pediatric shots, nobody is going to say that is a bad idea, it makes sense, but it might not apply to you or you might want to assume that risk or cost yourself.
We are saying to these employers and employees you have no option, you have to buy this because we are the government and we know what is best for you. This gives them a commonsense approach, a great compromise so they can afford health care again. I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation.