Small business owners are not some sort of single-minded monolith, but they are often treated that way. Stories pop up frequently with bold, broad-stroked claims like “small business optimism is soaring,” “small businesses get hefty tax cut in Trump plan” and “the president changed, so has small business’ confidence.” Now, the latest round of stories on the Republican attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act give the impression that America’s small businesses will be glad to see the ACA go if and when Congress manages to repeal it. While most small business owners agree there are portions of the ACA that can and should be improved, polling shows that a majority of small businesses actually prefer the current law over the GOP replacement plan, and that key provisions of the ACA are helping entrepreneurs succeed.
We know that some lawmakers are determined to repeal the ACA come hell or high premiums, but their mission goes against the wishes of many of our nation’s job creators. In fact, Small Business Majority’s scientific opinion polling found small firms prefer the ACA 2:1 over the replacement plan, known as the American Health Care Act. The poll also found that nearly 6 in 10 small businesses support the ACA after learning more about its provisions.
Additionally, a majority of survey respondents opposed key components of the AHCA, including a provision that would remove the individual mandate and instead allow insurers to impose a 30 percent surcharge on individuals who allow a gap to develop between their existing health plan and a new health plan. What’s more, half disapproved of replacing existing healthcare tax credits based on age, income and geography with tax credits based solely on a person’s age and not their income or where they live.
Small businesses showed overwhelming support (79 percent) for the ACA’s protections for pre-existing conditions. In fact, the most important aspect of the ACA for many entrepreneurs is its prohibition against denying coverage to people with these conditions. Unfortunately, the latest version of the AHCA would lessen these protections and allocate a mere $8 billion for high-risk pools, which is not nearly enough to ensure that anyone with pre-existing conditions will be able to afford the skyrocketing premiums they would face under the AHCA. As a result, the plan would put health care coverage out of reach for many who have it now.
Take Andrea Deutsch, for example. Andrea owns Spot’s — The Place for Paws in Narberth, Penn. At the age of only 15 months, she was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic. She now needs four insulin shots and multiple blood tests daily just to stay alive. Without health insurance, she could not afford these life-saving treatments.
Prior to the implementation of the ACA, Andrea was repeatedly denied coverage due to her pre-existing condition. The only reason she had any insurance at all was thanks to being grandfathered into a healthcare plan from a previous job. Unfortunately, that plan cost her over $1,200 per month, and paying for that coverage made it extremely difficult for her to put money back into her business.
Once the ACA was enacted, Andrea’s insurance rates dropped by almost two-thirds. The coverage she received was of the same quality as before and the money she saved was used to expand her business.
If the ACA is repealed, however, and insurers are allowed to discriminate against those with pre-existing health issues, she fears she will lose her insurance and be forced to close her business, then look for work with an employer that can cover her under a group plan.
It is clear from Andrea’s story that the ACA is helping entrepreneurs make their dream of owning a small business come true. If the ACA is repealed and the replacement plan does nothing to protect small employers with pre-existing conditions, however, those dreams will shatter.
There is no doubt there are some small business owners who don’t like the ACA and want to see it repealed, but lawmakers must recognize that not all small firms feel that way. If politicians truly care about creating jobs and growing our economy, they will ensure that America’s healthcare system looks out for people like Andrea and all those who need protection the most. If they really care about entrepreneurship, they will uphold the ACA.
John Arensmeyer is the founder and CEO of Small Business Majority.
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