The polls, conducted in conjunction with the Small Business Majority, found that:
- 63% of Illinois small business owners want to see the Affordable Care Act upheld, with minor or no changes. After learning more about the specifics of the law, support for keeping it as is or with minor changes rose to 68%.
- A 73% majority of small business owners say they would use or consider using the state exchange, and seven out of 10 Illinois small business owners support the state in applying for federal aid under the Affordable Care Act to set one up.
- A majority of business owners say they’d be likely to purchase health care for their employees through a state exchange because it is the only place they can receive a tax credit beginning in 2014. 64% of those polled said qualifying for the tax credit would make them more likely to provide or continue offering coverage to employees.
Small businesses are the backbone of Illinois’s economy. In 2010, 203,600 businesses in Illinois had 25 or fewer workers, according to the Small Business Majority. The SBHCC, formed earlier this year, represents the voice of small business leaders throughout Illinois on health care reform.
Present SBHCC Steering Committee members include the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Women Business Owners – Chicago Chapter, McCormick Chamber of Commerce, Women’s Business Development Center, and small businesses including Old Mexico Restaurant (Rock Island), Gregg Florist (Peoria), Wirehead Technology (Chicago), Second Act Cancer Recovery Boutique (Chicago), MCCE Investments (Springfield), Linda Forman CPA PC (Evanston), and H.A King & Associates (Chicago.)
“Forming the Small Business Health Care Consortium to represent the diversity of small businesses throughout the state is overdue. I am working with the Small Business Health Care Consortium to ensure that all small businesses can afford health insurance,” said Howard Lee of Wire Technology in Chicago, a SBHCC steering committee member.
Another provision of the ACA is the development of a competitive healthcare marketplace, or insurance exchange, in each state. Small businesses want to support our employees and their families by being able to provide them with the quality, affordable healthcare they deserve, but the high costs make it difficult or impossible for many of us to do that. We need a strong marketplace to give us more control, quality choices, and better consumer protections when buying insurance - just like the big guys get.
Pattie Sheehan, Certified Mastectomy Fitter and sole proprietor of Second Act Mastectomy Boutique in Chicago, serves cancer patients and survivors. “Every day I see and hear from women who did not catch their cancer early because they did not have access to healthcare. Women who battle cancer also work at small businesses and that means that they are less likely to have health insurance coverage, just because their employer is small. It is time for the inequality of insurance access to be erased and for the needs of small businesses to be met so that our employees can afford good insurance. That is why I have joined the Steering Committee of the Small Business Health Care Consortium.”
Since 2010 under the ACA, companies with fewer than 25 employees and average employee wages of less than $50,000 can get tax credits for the health insurance they provide their employees. These tax breaks have already lightened the load on small businesses so we can get back to what we do best...creating jobs that will stay here in our communities.
“I am the owner of MCCE Investments and I also own several Subway stores in the Springfield area. The main reason I am spending time on this project, the Small Business Health Care Consortium, is to be sure small business has a voice in the process from the beginning. We have to be sure health care for all Americans is not done on the backs of small business but must be shared by all,” said Mark Burris.
“Contrary to political spin and popular belief, small business owners in Illinois do not want the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out the Affordable Care Act. Illinois small businesses see this law as helping everyone have coverage and bringing down healthcare costs—something that has been one of their top concerns for years. We hope Supreme Court justices understand how important this law is to small businesses who need relief from high healthcare costs,” said Jim Duffett, Executive Director of the Campaign for Better Health Care.
Duffett continued, “Since the General Assembly has abdicated its responsibilities, Governor Quinn needs to step up to the plate and enact an Executive Order to begin the process for an Illinois Marketplace (exchange). Small businesses are committed in taking personal responsibility; it is time for our political leaders to do the same.”
Right now, Illinois could access over $200 million in federal funds to implement the new marketplace. It won't cost the state a penny if we use these federal funds. This past legislative session, the General Assembly took no action on implementing a marketplace in Illinois. This means the federal government will implement one for us, unless Governor Quinn takes immediate action.
David Whitaker, Chair of the Health Committee for the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce, said “Small businesses are diverse throughout Illinois and yet we all have the same problem when it comes to buying health insurance—it is very difficult and we spend more for it than larger businesses. The Illinois General Assembly failed this past session to enact legislation to establish an Illinois marketplace, or insurance exchange. It is time for action and leadership.”
“The SBHCC is calling on Governor Quinn to sign an executive order to set the standard for this
marketplace and it must include the following principles:
1) No insurance industry representataives on the Governing Board.
2) The right to negotiate rates with insurers - there must be real cost containment measures.
3) The Insurance industry must pay for the Marketplace, not small businesses and consumers.”
Joyce Harant, SBHCC Project Director said, "Small business owners are so busy keeping their businesses operating that they have very little time to navigate what is happening about health care reform. Most of them wish they could afford health insurance for their employees and yet when the rubber meets the road, for many of them the obstacles are too great. My hope is that we can learn the needs of small business owners and, in a collective way, make sure their needs and opinions are heard and become part of the legislation passed in Illinois."
Full statements by small business owners on today's telebriefing are available via Kathleen Duffy. The audio of today's telebriefing is available on the Campaign for Better Health Care's Audio Archive.