Small-Business Groups Stump for Mandatory Health Insurance
Small-business groups are lobbying lawmakers to pass health care reform legislation that requires all individuals to obtain coverage and includes cost controls to ensure affordability, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
Small-business interests argue that a compromise health care reform bill by Democratic lawmakers is unaffordable because it requires employers to contribute at least 7.5% of payroll toward health care coverage for workers.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) overhaul plan is more favorable for small businesses because it includes an individual coverage mandate and exempts businesses with less than 10 employees from providing coverage. The governor's proposed 4% payroll contribution also is more favorable than the Democrats' plan, according to interest groups.
Scott Hauge, president of Small Business California, said, "We believe there needs to be universal coverage." He added, "But not through a single-payer" system, referring to a bill (SB 840) by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles).
Hauge said, "We do support an individual mandate and shared responsibility to solve the problem -- but there must be cost containment for it to work."
Small-business interests contend that if lawmakers do not pass comprehensive health care reform this year, public health care programs for children should be expanded as an interim step.
Small-business groups also are supporting:
- SB 869 by Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) to penalize businesses that are not complying with a state requirement to provide workers' compensation insurance for employees;
- AB 1 by Assembly member John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) to expand eligibility for Medi-Cal and Healthy Families;
- AB 507 by Assembly member Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate) to create a Web site to verify whether an employer is covered by workers' compensation insurance (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 7/16).
"We have a unique opportunity for comprehensive health care reform in California this year," Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and Jim Wunderman, CEO of the Bay Area Council, write in a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece. "The key to success is not sitting back and watching the action on a movie screen," they write.
"Let's put down the popcorn and pick up our pens and phones to contact our legislators today," Guardino and Wunderman write. "If we lose the opportunity for reform this year, there may not be a sequel any time soon," Guardino and Wunderman conclude (Guardino/Wunderman, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/18).