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Bipartisan Coalition of Members, Business & Labor Groups Announce House

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Bipartisan Coalition of Members, Business & Labor Groups Announce House

A bipartisan group of members, including U.S. Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI), John Barrow (D-GA), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), and Bill Young (R-FL), along with the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), National Association of Realtors, Families USA, National Partnership for Women and Families, and National Restaurant Association today reintroduced the Small Business Heath Options Program (SHOP) Act, H.R. 2360, legislation designed to make health insurance more available and affordable for small businesses and their employees.

"Small businesses and family farmers in the United States are in a crisis today when it comes to finding affordable health insurance," Rep. Kind (D-WI) said. "With rising costs pricing small businesses out of the market, it's no surprise that 60 percent of Americans without health insurance are from families where the head of household is self-employed or works in a small business. If we are going to address the lack of health care coverage in this country, we have to look out for small businesses, and the SHOP Act gets to the heart of that. I am proud of this historic, bipartisan coalition and look forward to working with more of my colleagues to ensure that SHOP is incorporated into health care reform."

"Small businesses want to do right by their employees," said Rep. Barrow (D-GA). "They want to provide health insurance coverage, it's just too expensive. This bill will help them out. It's a great start to making sure that more folks who put in a hard day's work can get the health coverage they need."

"I am pleased to be working side by side with Congressman Kind again on enacting a bipartisan solution for expanding access to health insurance coverage and lowering costs for employers," Rep. Gerlach (R-PA) said. "The SHOP Act would put healthcare coverage within reach for millions of self-employed and small-business owners who want to provide competitive benefits to attract the most talented and skilled workers, but often lack the resources to do so. It is my hope that as Congress begins to weigh the options for reforming our healthcare system, all voices will be heard and all ideas receive fair consideration."

The SHOP Act would make health insurance less costly, more predictable, and more accessible for the 47.1 million employees of the nation's 5.8 million small businesses, including family farms, and for the 14.1 million self-employed individuals in America by:

-Allowing small businesses and the self employed to band together in a statewide or nationwide pool to obtain lower health insurance prices by spreading their risk over a larger number of participants.

-Keeping prices low by offering a range of private health plans that have to compete for business.

-Providing small business owners with an annual tax credit of up to $1,000 per employee ($2,000 for family coverage) if they pay for 60 percent of their employees' premiums, and a bonus tax credit if they pay for more than 60 percent of the premiums. Self-employed individuals would get a $1,800 annual tax credit ($3,600 for family coverage) to purchase health insurance.

-Cutting down on administrative costs for small businesses - today, small businesses spend almost 25 percent of health insurance premiums on administrative costs, compared to 10 percent for large employers.

-Banning the practice of rating insurance based on health status and claims experience so that premium increases will be more stable and predictable.

-Providing a website with comparative information about a variety of private health plans.

-Putting in place accountability measures that rely on the proven oversight of state insurance commissioners to ensure that all health plans meet state requirements for financial solvency, network adequacy, and claims and appeal procedures.

"For so many small business owners the cost of healthcare is unsustainable," said Dan Danner, president and CEO, National Federation of Independent Business. "SHOP is a bipartisan, bicameral bill that pursues uniform insurance market reforms greatly needed for our nation's job creators. It explores new pooling options aimed at improving competition, creates new ways for small business owners to access affordable healthcare options and gives individuals the ability to choose their own plan. We commend Congressmen Kind (WI), Barrow (GA), Gerlach (PA) and Young (FL) for their continued leadership on this important issue. Enacting solutions specific to the diverse small business community is critical to advancing meaningful reform."

"The current economic crisis shows just how broken America's healthcare system is - too many hardworking people are struggling to afford care or being crushed by skyrocketing costs," said Andy Stern, President of SEIU. "As we move toward comprehensive health care reform, this bill has important ideas of ways to help small businesses & help millions of workers, including tens of thousands of SEIU child care workers, afford the health coverage they need."

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