Message battle rages over effects of health reform on small businesses

Conservative and liberal groups are battling it out over the effect the Democrats’ new healthcare reform law will have on small businesses nationwide. 

On the right stands the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an adamant reform opponent, which will launch a website next Monday where businesses can register their experiences (i.e., catalogue their grievances) with the various changes under the law. The business lobbyist group has said for a year that the reforms will hobble companies with new costs and paperwork burdens at the expense of the economy on the whole.

On the left is Families USA, the Washington-based healthcare advocate that’s spent most of this week detailing how many small businesses are eligible for new tax credits in each of the 50 states (Hint: the group says eligibility rates are sky-high.). Those eligibility reports have generated headlines from Miami to Tucson, Ariz., to Birmingham, Ala., to Denver.

Which side has the upper hand in this battle of messages remains unclear. Like the prescription drug benefit before it, though, healthcare reform’s reception seems likely to be a function of each person’s (or each business’s) individual experience with the changes.