WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 7, 2009 - The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”), today expressed their disappointment with the Democratic Health Care Reform bill that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Just last week, the House Democratic Leadership unveiled a 1,990 page bill that was touted as the byproduct of months of negotiations between House Democratic Leadership and members of the moderate and more liberal factions of their caucus yet the ‘revised’ bill closely resembles the original bill,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “The Big ‘I’ is greatly disappointed that after months of negotiations, hearings, votes and debate in three House committees we seem to be back on square one: a bad bill that includes a ‘public option’ and deprives the American people of true choices in their health care.”
“The House passed a bill today that includes a government-run health insurance plan (‘public option’) that would unfairly compete with the private insurance marketplace, limit consumer choice and increase the taxpayer burden,” says Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president of government affairs. “This bill picks winners and losers, and small businesses and health care consumers are the biggest losers today.”
In order to finance the government-run health insurance plan, a 5.4% surtax would be imposed on successful small businesses that file as individuals. The legislation will also force small employers with more than $500,000 in payroll to offer their employees health insurance and subsidize their premiums, 72.5% subsidy for individual plans and 65% for family plans, regardless of their current plans or taking into account what they can actually afford. If a small business is unable to afford this new mandate, they will be subject to an 8% payroll tax.
“An unreasonable employer mandate coupled with a huge tax increase will put many small businesses in the untenable position of deciding between job cuts, employee pay cuts, or shutting their doors,” says Symington. “Health care reform should not be financed on the backs of small businesses that are struggling to make ends meet in this very difficult economic time.”
Finally, the legislation creates a new Small Business Administration grant program that would award federal money to non-profits for the purpose of providing small businesses with less than 100 employees assistance with consumer information, outreach, counseling and enrollment.
“Small businesses seeking information on what health insurance plan best fits their needs should be able to count on sound advice from a licensed health insurance agent, broker or consultant,” continues Symington. “It is simply reckless to hand this trusted role over to random non-profits with no relevant health care background or training.”
"As the Senate and House move to conference, the Big ‘I’ urges Congress to reconsider what this bill will do to consumers and small businesses," says Rusbuldt.
Founded in 1896, the Big “I” is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.