Blogging To the Middle: Rising Health-Care Costs and Small Businesses

Mary Anne Murray is a small-business owner in Newark, Delaware. Her home care company serves hundreds of senior citizens providing home health-care services. As a small-business owner, Mary Anne faces the challenge of providing health-care insurance to her employees in the face of rising health-care costs. Currently, Mary Anne is able to cover her full-time employees but worries how rising health-care costs will affect her workers and company’s competitiveness.
Across America, the Middle Class Task Force hears stories just like Mary Anne’s. Small businesses are facing higher costs, fewer options, and decreasing coverage. As a result, employers are forced to make tough choices between offering health insurance to their employees or staying competitive in a 21st-century economy by cutting back on health insurance for their workers or even getting rid of it altogether.
Today, the Middle Class Task Force hosted a roundtable discussion on the rising costs of health care for small-business owners and employees and heard first-hand accounts of the tolls that high costs are taking on middle-class families across America. Vice President Biden and Secretary Sebelius led the discussion with small-business owners and employees.
The Vice President listens to a small business owner
(Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius listen Perry Gaskins, a small business owner talks about rising health insurance costs his company is facing, during a healthcare roundtable in room 350 of the EEOB, Friday, July 10, 2009.  Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
The Middle Class Task Force today also released a report examining how the current health-care system has failed the middle class and why we must enact health-care reform this year.
The status quo is unsustainable. We must enact health-care reform that will help Mary Anne and the thousands of small-business owners like her by giving them access to a health insurance marketplace—an exchange—where they will be able to compare prices of health plans and choose the one that works best for them. In order to market a plan in the exchange, insurance companies will have to comply with its rules: No denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions; limits on premium variation related to age; fair prices, for decent benefits; and guaranteed renewal of coverage. For small businesses, administrative costs will be lower and plans will be more affordable.
As health-care reform moves forward, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and other task-force members will work to ensure that small-business owners and employees aren’t bogged down by the burden of high health-care costs. President Obama and Vice President Biden believe that no employers should have to choose between staying competitive and providing health care for their employees, and that’s why this administration is working to make sure that small-business owners like Mary Anne don’t have to make that choice.  
Visit the Middle Class Task Force website and provide us with your story about how rising health-care costs have affected your family.
A member of the audience photographs the Vice President
(Vice President Joe Biden is photographed by a an attendee of the healthcare roundtable in room 350 of the EEOB, Friday, July 10, 2009.  Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Terrell McSweeny is Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President.

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