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The Administration Refuses to Protect People with Preexisting Conditions, Threatening the Health of Main Street Small Businesses Owners, their Employees, and the Vitality of the Small Business Sector

Yesterday, the Trump administration announced that it would not defend key protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) against yet another frivolous lawsuit attempting to take health care away from millions. This lawsuit argues that, when Congress used its tax scam legislation to eliminate the individual insurance requirement, it also authorized insurance corporations to resume discriminating against people with preexisting conditions, denying them coverage and raising their rates.

Though far from perfect for small businesses, the ACA did offer stable, single-digit increases in premiums from year to year and protected entrepreneurs forced to choose between sustaining a business and keeping their health care.

“For many entrepreneurs, the day the ACA went into effect was the day they had the freedom to strike out on their own and start their businesses,” said Stephen Michael, Deputy Director of the Main Street Alliance. “Now Trump wants to let insurance companies reject you or jack up costs for a preexisting condition? That’s a huge gift to the insurance industry and the giant corporations that don’t want a strong small business sector.”

Main Street Alliance small business owners, who have seen dramatic benefits with the ACA and spiking premiums as efforts to undercut the ACA go into effect are available to speak to this latest sabotage:

ReShonda Young, owner of Popcorn Heaven, Waterloo, IA

When I joined the fight for the ACA, I was running my dad’s small businesses, Alpha Express. We’d been searching for insurance for years, but couldn’t find what we needed due to restrictions against pre-existing conditions. Thanks to protections in the ACA, in 2014 when I went into business for myself and opened Popcorn Heaven, I was grateful to have an affordable health insurance option for my employees, whether they had any pre-existing conditions or not. The DOJ’s latest action is a huge step backwards and hurt small businesses like mine.

David Borris, owner of Hel’s Kitchen Catering, Chicago, IL

Hel’s Kitchen began offering health care in 1992. Around 2002, we began to see volatile double-digit premium increases. My insurance broker sheepishly acknowledged the spikes were primarily due to a single employee needing kidney dialysis. Fortunately for us, when we passed the ACA in 2010, restricting the ability of insurance companies to punish businesses for the “there but for the grace of god” health issues of a single unfortunate employee. While the bulk of that law didn’t take effect until 2014, but there was we experienced an immediate downward pressure on premiums. From 2010-2017, our premiums increased by less than five percent, which is manageable and reasonable. I worry now, that if we go back to the Wild Wild West days of spiky volatile increases, I don’t know how we can will afford health insurance for our employees. This latest action is terrible and a giant step backwards for those with pre-existing conditions and small business like me mine whose whole bottom line can be thrown off disrupted by one  a single employee’s illness.

Kelly Conklin, Owner, Foley-Waite LLC, Kenilworth, NJ

Before the Affordable Care Act we were looking at double digit increases in our insurance premiums every year. We were getting older, my wife has a chronic illness and after a couple of big claims, they just wanted to dump us.  The first few years after the ACA was put in place, our rates stabilized. Our premiums rose just between 5 to 7 percent. That all changes after Trump was elected and the GOP began attacking the ACA. In 2017 we got hit with a 26 percent increase. It’s clear to me that we are headed back to where we were pre-ACA. As a responsible business owner I have be pragmatic and figure out what we can afford. So I am likely going to have to stop providing health insurance to my employees and they will have to go out and find coverage in an individual market with skyrocketing premiums. What we do next is critically important.

Jim HouserCo-owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic. Portland, OR

Before the ACA, health care costs for our nine full-time employees and their families doubled in just 8 years, exceeding 20 percent of payroll: over $100,000 dollars. With the ACA our rates stabilized, enabling us to add two more full-time employees. While our state leaders in Oregon have been working to blunt the impact of the Trump/Republican sabotage, they can’t fully protect us and rates are going up again. I’m worried we’ll go back to where costs are completely unsustainable for my business.

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