WASHINGTON, DC – Americans operating small businesses who are being crushed by Obamacare regulations and raging inflation under the Biden Administration testified before the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee last week led by Subcommittee Chairman Vern Buchanan (FL-16) about the challenges they face in affording and providing health insurance for their employees.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING:
Matt Niswander, nurse practitioner and owner of a small medical practice, told the committee about the experience of skyrocketing costs and limited access to care, forcing his patients to drive hours, sometimes missing work, to visit a doctor that accepts their Obamacare:
“What good is that insurance..if they can’t use it? Access to health care is a problem. Mr. Doggett mentioned maintaining and keeping rural hospitals open..Texas leads the nation in closed hospitals in the last 10 years. In my state of Tennessee, 16 hospitals have been closed in the last 10 years. 13 of those have been in rural areas. My hospital, in my county, is on the verge of closing. The county next to me just closed last year. Access to health care is a problem, people. It’s not affordable.
“People in my community don’t make a lot of money. $36,000 is the average income. We’re asking them to pay a $14,000 deductible, drive 2 hours to get to a specialist, take a day off work they can’t afford, that is going to take food out of their kids’ mouths. The Affordable Care Act is anything but.”
Mr. Niswander also spoke about the painful reality of rising costs that forced him to sell his family farm last year to make ends meet:
“For me personally, [rising costs] created a lot of sacrifice. I’m a first generation cattleman. Since I was sixteen years old working on a dairy farm, I dreamed about having a farm. I bought that farm in 2014 and last year I had to sell it in order to keep my medical practice alive – our patients, taking care of them, our employees and families fed. I don’t have another farm to sell.”
Kelly Moore, owner of several auto parts stores, shared her story with the committee of having to choose between providing health insurance or keeping people employed. Moore also mentioned how The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s Small Business Deduction provided tax savings that allowed her to purchase health insurance for her employees:
“Back then, our employees had a $500 deductible. Like I said, we not only covered employees and dependents, we offered spousal coverage at that time.
“With the ACA, came the challenges of meeting payroll and also health insurance. It was a time in business…recovery time wasn’t coming fast enough for businesses like mine. We dropped that coverage for spouses, and then we had to decrease the premium contribution from 80% to 70% to 60%. We ended vision, life, and dental insurance coverage for our employees.
“I am glad to tell you because of those changes made after…2017, we were able not only to reinstitute not only health insurance, but also pay 100% of the life insurance policy for our employees and all of their dental and vision.”
Brian Blase, Ph.D., President of Paragon Health Institute, explained how Democrats’ expanded Obamacare subsidies undercut employer-sponsored health coverage and further sparked the inflationary crisis we are in:
“Both the American Rescue Plan Act and Inflation Reduction Act expanded the ACA’s already substantial subsidies. Most of the benefit went to people who already had coverage. Families with incomes well above $250,000 now qualify for large subsidies. The expanded subsidies incentivized employers to drop workplace coverage, raising overall deficits, and all the new spending on the expanded subsidies increases inflation.”
Karen Kerrigan, President and CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, emphasized how high inflation has made offering health insurance difficult for small businesses:
“Inflationary pressure has been a painful drag over the past year or more. Recent surveys show that inflation continues to rank as a top concern…Higher health coverage costs are adding to the pressure. An October 2022 survey by Small Businesses for America reported that 41% of small business owners said that the rising cost of health insurance caused them to increase prices of goods and services. These cost pressures come on top of the challenges small business owners are facing when it comes to finding and retaining workers and upward pressure on labor costs in general.”
DEMOCRATS IN THEIR OWN WORDS:
During the hearing, held on the 13th anniversary of enactment of the Affordable Care Act, Ways and Means Democrats admitted that there was still much work to be done to shore up Obamacare:
- Brian Higgins (NY-26): “We’re not defending the perfect here. Everybody, even the most vociferous proponents of the Affordable Care Act, we acknowledge that it’s not perfect and we still have a long way to go.”
- Mike Thompson (CA-04): “…the issue of access to quality, affordable health care has long been something that has plagued us before the Affordable Care Act and after the Affordable Care Act.”
- Don Beyer (VA-08): “Now we have to fix what didn’t work.”
President Biden’s Inflation Crisis Has Worsened Health Care Unaffordability Throughout the Entire Health Delivery System.
- Since Biden has been in office, the cost of medical equipment and supplies have increased by 15 percent.
- This increases input costs for small, independent medical providers.
- These combined factors ultimately increase costs for patients and threaten access to health care, especially in rural areas.
Untargeted Washington Subsidies Led to Higher Health Insurance Costs
- Obamacare’s inflationary subsidies mask the true cost of rising health insurance premiums for patients – without actually lowering them.
- Ways and Means Democrats and President Biden expanded these taxpayer-funded subsidies to include wealthy families making up to $599,000 per year.
- President Biden’s budget would make that policy permanent – putting taxpayers on the hook for an additional $183 billion in future handouts to the wealthy.