• WisBusiness

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Health law repeal: Does the Senate have what it takes?


By Dan Danner
On Jan. 19th, courage overcame politics as the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal President Obama’s new healthcare law. Now it’s senators’ turn to show the American people they care more about the nation’s economic future than scoring partisan points.

It might help senators to pause at the Senate Chamber’s western entrance and draw inspiration from “Courage,” a sculpture above the door of a warrior battling a deadly serpent. That’s an accurate image of the struggle facing small-business owners if the misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act slithers free of Congress’ grasp.

For a quarter-century, even during periods of prosperity, the cost of health insurance has been small-business owners’ greatest problem. On their behalf, the National Federation of Independent Business constantly suggested meaningful reform suggestions. We offered ideas, policy changes and sound solutions.

Instead, and despite an economy now fighting for its life, Congress and the president ignored small business’ concerns, handing down an edict that not only fails to improve their healthcare dilemma, but punishes recession-weary small firms with new taxes, fees, paperwork, penalties and mandates that will drive costs even higher.

Senators should also be aware that tax compliance costs small businesses two-thirds more than their larger counterparts. That might help them muster the courage to recall this unwise plan that adds new financial burdens, including a never-expiring tax camouflaged as an annual fee on the plans small businesses buy, bleeding them collectively of $14.3 billion. As a result, early estimates show family premiums could hike by at least $500 a year.

Small-business owners also fear other lurking items such as the “Tanning Tax,” a 10-percent services levy that could bite 18,000 businesses, and the “Cadillac Tax,” a whopping 40-percent duty on health coverage that exceeds the government’s idea of “appropriate.” And, Medicare payroll taxes will jump to 2.35 percent.

Among the reasons more than 90 percent of small-business owners oppose President Obama’s job-killing health law is yet another tax--this one on their time--that forces them to file an IRS Form 1099 for business-to-business transactions adding up to $600 or more--a devastating paperwork burden.

This law is not reform. While NFIB is determined to push for its repeal, we remain committed to helping Congress discover practical, affordable solutions to the healthcare cost crisis.

It will require courage to repeal this law before it inflicts greater damage on the nation’s small businesses and the economy, courage like that displayed by NFIB months ago when it stepped forth as the only business organization to challenge the law’s constitutionality in federal court.

But doing the right thing always demands courage. Small-business owners are hopeful the Senate has what it takes.

-- Danner is president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business in Washington, D.C.

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