Letter to Speaker Hastert on the "Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2003"
June 12, 2003
The Honorable J. Dennis Hastert
Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Mr. Speaker:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses of every size, sector and region, is pleased to endorse H.R. 660, the "Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2003." This bipartisan legislation will expand the availability of health coverage for employees of America's small businesses by allowing employers to join together through bona fide associations to buy health coverage under an Association Health Plan (AHP).
More than 41 million Americans lack health insurance, and approximately 60% of the uninsured work for, or reside in, a family employed by a small business. Small employers face significant challenges in accessing affordable health insurance coverage — on average, their premiums are 20 to 30 percent higher than those of large self-insured companies. Moreover, administrative expenses for small group plans are 25 to 27 percent of premiums, compared to about 5 to 11 percent for large business plans.
H.R. 660 offers small businesses greater bargaining power, economies of scale, administrative efficiencies, and the benefits of a uniform regulatory structure under the same federal law governing health benefits for large corporations and unions. Health plan mandates, rating reform and regulatory requirements enacted by the states have driven up the cost of small group coverage and stifled competition. Small employers have few, if any, alternatives to their current health plan when presented with dramatic rate increases. AHPs will invigorate the market for small group coverage and provide competitive choices both for businesses and their employees.
Small business is the backbone of our nation and has driven much of the economic boom of the last decade and century. If small employers continue to face annual premium increases of 20 to 30 percent, they will be unable to remain competitive and contribute to the growth of the U.S. economy. H.R. 660 is essential to improving access to health care coverage and making it more affordable for small business employees and their families.
R. Bruce Josten
Executive Vice President
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
cc: The Honorable Tom DeLay
The Honorable Roy Blunt
The Honorable Deborah Pryce