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Op-Ed: The Health Care Reform Bill: Bad For Business


Location: Washington, DC

More than 90 percent of all American employers are small businesses and they generate more than 70 percent of the new jobs created in the United States each year. Small businesses are crucial to the American economy and account for a significant majority of new product ideas and innovation. Small businesses are also central to the American dream of self-improvement and individual achievement which is why Congress must work to reduce the tax and regulatory burdens that hinder small businesses and ultimately overall economic growth and job creation.

Unfortunately, H.R. 3200, the Democrats' health care reform proposal which sets the tone for a Washington takeover of the health care system, does the exact opposite. This legislation which contains a multitude of new federal regulations, mandates, new big government programs, and a significant increase in federal spending and debt, will be extremely detrimental to American businesses and particularly our small businesses.

Specifically, H.R. 3200 creates a new regulatory regime and mandates that many believe will drive up the cost of private health insurance. Three different studies have variously estimated that from 47 to 114 million individuals would lose their current insurance. Whether through the "government insurance option" or other regulations and programs (the bill provides for 53 new government agencies and programs), this means Washington would have ultimate control over what is best for patients, what treatments are acceptable, and how long patients wait for needed care.

To pay for this massive new government expansion, the legislation contains $820 billion in new job-killing tax increases imposed on certain income filers, a majority of whom are small businesses, even while the country remains in a serious recession. Struggling middle class families need jobs, and small businesses can not afford to hire more workers while paying higher taxes. It's simple -- people want to focus on creating jobs, not raising taxes. For this reason, the National Retail Federation, whose members employ one in five American workers, and the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents over 350,000 small and independent businesses, both strongly oppose the current health care reform legislation.

Included in the billions of dollars worth of tax increases is $208 billion in taxes on businesses who cannot afford to finance their workers' health coverage. The Congressional Budget Office has confirmed that this tax "could reduce the hiring of low-wage workers" and could lead to wage stagnation as businesses are forced to divert funds to comply with new federal taxes and mandates. Estimates indicate that as many as 5.5 million jobs could be lost from this tax alone. This is particularly unacceptable at a time when unemployment is at a 26-year high.

Our economy faces historic and unprecedented challenges. Small businesses, which employ half of the U.S. workforce, are an integral part of our national economy. Since the current recession began almost two years ago more than 7 million jobs have been lost. Congress should not be pushing a government takeover of health care that will inflict even more harm on our nation's small businesses, making job losses even worse. Instead Congress must focus on responsible legislation that will empower patients with choices, make high quality coverage more affordable, and protect and preserve the doctor-patient relationship.

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