Issue: Health Care
ASBA to NFIB:
Whose Side are You On?
Small Business' or the Insurance Industry's?
WASHINGTON - The American Small Business Alliance has called
on the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)
to explain how that organization - in billing itself as the
"voice of small business" - can go against the wishes
of the vast majority of small business executives by opposing
the Patient's Bill of Rights. A national survey shows overwhelming
support in the small business community for the provisions
in the legislation.
"Again and again and again, the NFIB is carrying the
insurance industry's water, while compromising the interests
of small business," said ASBA President Joel Marks. "The
natural question is: Who is the NFIB fighting for?"
Diane Warren, owner of Katzinger's Delicatessen in Columbus,
Ohio, said many business people are tired of groups like the
NFIB that have become little more than mouthpieces for the
insurance industry. "The NFIB long-ago stopped being
an independent voice for the business community. They have
tied all small business interests to those of the largest
and most dominating industries and have abandoned the real
needs of small employers like me."
Marks noted that a national poll conducted by the Kaiser-Harvard
Program on Health Policy, in conjunction with the ASBA Education
Fund, showed small business executives clearly want the provisions
found in the Patients' Bill of Rights, are willing to pay
for them, won't drop coverage even if they lead to higher
premiums, and reject the idea that these protections lead
to too much government involvement in health care.
For instance, 89 percent of small business executives surveyed
support a law requiring greater disclosure of health plan
information, 88 percent support an independent appeals process
for denied claims, and 75 percent support the right to see
a specialist without prior approval. On the issue of liability,
61 percent of small business executives favored giving people
the right to sue their health plan, with 51 percent still
showing support if such a measure would lead to higher premiums.
Sixty-six percent favor this measure to "ensure people
get the care they need," while only 25 percent oppose
granting the right to sue as "unnecessary government
involvement in health care."
Marks also called the NFIB/insurance industry claim that
the Patient's Bill of Rights somehow would allow individual
small businesses to be sued "a scare tactic" just
like their assertion that such a law would lead to millions
of people losing their health coverage. The Kaiser-Harvard/ASBAEF
health care survey showed that fewer than 1 percent of small
business executives might drop coverage if rates go up as
The American Small Business Alliance has stood out as the
only small business organization in support of these sensible
and popular reforms. The ASBA believes the Patient's Bill
of Rights will benefit small businesses by making it easier
to compare plans, by reducing the risk and complexity of buying
insurance, by leveling the playing field with big business,
and by giving employees a system that better responds to their
needs and makes them healthier and more productive workers.
"Simply put, the Patient's Bill of Rights is good for
small business and it's clearly something the small business
community wants," Marks said. "If the NFIB were
true representatives of small business and not just shills
for the insurance industry, they'd support it, too."