WASHINGTON, D.C., March 21, 2010 - The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”), today expressed their disappointment with the health care reform bill that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The House approved the Senate-passed bill and also approved a "reconciliation" bill that made changes agreed to by President Obama and Democrats in both the House and Senate.
“The Big ‘I’ is greatly disappointed that after months of negotiations, hearings, debates and votes in multiple Senate and House committees we seem to be back on square one: a bill that does little to stem the skyrocketing cost of health care and will be financed on the backs of small business during one of the most delicate financial periods in American history,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “We are equally disappointed that the Democratic leadership is using a procedural end-around, the reconciliation process, to make such major policy changes to what amounts to nearly 18% of our nation's economy."
In order to finance the government-run health insurance plan, a .9% Medicare surtax would be imposed on some individuals as well as small businesses that file as individuals. The legislation would also impose a new 3.9% tax on nonwage income for these same individuals and successful small businesses.
“A tax increase, especially during today's tough economic climate, will put many small businesses in the untenable position of deciding between job cuts, employee pay cuts, or shutting their doors,” says Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president of government affairs. “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.”
The legislation proposes to spend $940 billion of taxpayer dollars over ten years and yet does almost nothing to rein in the skyrocketing healthcare costs that threaten our nation's economic future. In particular, there is no meaningful attempt at medical malpractice reform, an issue that the Big "I" has strongly supported Congress addressing in order to help bring healthcare costs down.
“It is also critical to note that the health care bill that passed today fails to bend the cost curve for health insurance consumers, including millions of small businesspeople,” continues Symington. “Health care reform must first and foremost address the rising costs of health insurance and this bill does nothing in this regard. As the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) acknowledges: under this bill, small businesses will see little to no decrease in their monthly premiums and individuals will see an increase of 10-13%.”
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.