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Luetkemeyer Column - Health-Care's Impact on Job Creators at Home


Location: Washington, DC

Over the last few weeks, all of us have heard from pundits and politicians about the impact of the president's health-care plan on our small businesses. While these two groups have made many points, I believe the people back home in Missouri like you provide the best gauge of the impact of government policies.

I had the opportunity to hear from many small business owners recently about the president's health-care plan and there is a common theme: the president's health-care plan has and will continue to raise costs for employers and force a cutback in hiring. At a time when our small businesses -- which create 70 percent of new jobs and represent the lifeline of our economic growth -- struggle in this tough economy, we should not be placing additional burdens on them.

Sheree Grapenthin, a partner with residential concrete paving firm, Gold Star Paving of Wentzville, made it clear about where she stands on the impact of the president's overall economic policies and his health-care plan."Our company is experiencing the largest downturn we've ever had in 40 years. At one time we employed 70 people and now we're down to 15," Grapenthin said recently. "If things don't change, a lot of local businesses will be closing their doors. Obamacare will lead to the downfall of this country."

Randy Park, president of Printex, a small screen printing, embroidery and promotional products business based in Hannibal, goes even further.

"Most of my employees are second income, or have had a hard time finding a job, due to low skill levels. I can't cut their wages enough to pay the fine and the employees won't be able to afford to buy the mandated insurance on an $8 an hour job. The first group that would go would be a third of my work force that I am collecting child support garnishments for the government," Park says. "Instead of Obamacare, let insurance companies cross state lines and open up competition. Give everyone a tax credit to buy their own insurance and be responsible for their own health-care. Stop the entitlement attitude that thinks someone else is responsible for your health-care."

I've heard from many more small business owners that feel the same way, and their point of view was recently reflected in a National Federation of Independent Business report that found that folks are not optimistic about the economy or their own business outlook. The report found that optimism among small business owners is at its lowest level since October 2011.

With trillions in tax increases that will further burden small businesses, it is clear that we need to repeal this law, start over and take the time to get health-care reform right with simple, commonsense reforms that tackle rising costs and increase availability and access. My goal is to work with all the stakeholders in this issue and put in place commonsense improvements that take into account concerns shared by Americans like Sheree and Randy who are trying to create jobs and expand opportunities. Simply put, we do not need another 2,700-page bill that nobody reads and is written behind closed doors. We need real health-care solutions to real health-care problems facing real people.

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