On healthcare, NFIB doesn’t speak for me

But I’ve got to give them credit for one thing: they know how to play the Washington spin game. NFIB’s regular attacks on the health law could have been written by the insurance industry’s best spin doctors. Then again, given how cozy NFIB and the health insurance industry seem to be with each other, it’s quite possible they were.
{mosads}Why is the “voice of small business” taking pot shots at the Affordable Care Act instead of serving small business owners with factual information that could help them maximize the benefits they get from the health reform law? Does NFIB give realistic proposals for how it would fix a broken system? No. Instead, it offers a litany of complaints, which as usual focus on two things: “mandates” and “taxes.”
Well, with Tax Day coming up fast, if you want to talk taxes I’ll take you up on it. Let’s talk about this tax: the hidden tax health insurers have levied on small businesses year after year, driven by cost-shifting for uncompensated care from the uninsured and under-insured. This hidden tax was already adding over $1,000 to a family insurance policy as far back as 2008.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, that hidden tax will be greatly reduced: when new market reforms get 30 million more people covered, insurers will have no excuse to continue shifting this cost to us. If the insurance companies refuse to cut the hidden tax and lower our premiums, we should bar them from the new state insurance exchanges. They’ve been telling us “it’s my way or the highway” for long enough – now it’s our turn.
Perhaps the NFIB should suggest how it would expand coverage and end cost-shifting before it recommends we tear up the new law. It had ample opportunities to seek measures within health reform to strengthen protections for real small businesses. Instead, it stood against reform – and for the status quo.
Whether we’re talking about health care or taxes (or both at the same time), NFIB always seems to side with the big fellas – big insurance, big banking, big business – not little guys like me. Why? I don’t know. But I’d sure like to know who’s bankrolling NFIB’s positions and who’s paying for its multi-million dollar legal challenge to the ACA. According to an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last December, the Karl Rove-connected American Crossroads gave NFIB $3.7 million in 2010, the year it joined the ACA lawsuit. How much more money has Crossroads given since then?
Despite the steady recovery (I’m seeing a big uptick in requests for bids), I remain more anxious than ever at the prospect that the ACA could be overturned. Justice Kennedy said the uninsured came very close to affecting the market by their choice not to “participate.” Well, let me clarify something for all the Justices (for whom I have the utmost respect): if the ACA falls, it will have a direct impact on my bottom line.
Going back to 30-50 percent annual premium increases, like we endured before the ACA with no recourse and no end in sight, could well be the straw that breaks this camel’s back. And as I go, so go thousands of other small companies across the country. I think the Justices would be hard pressed to find a better example of interstate commerce.

Conklin is the owner of Foley-Waite Associates, an architectural woodworking company based in Bloomfield, New Jersey.


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