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Health Insurance Reform Mythbuster: Catching the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Myth Making Process

Health insurance reform opponents continue to spread myths about the recently-passed Affordable Health Care for America Act, including saying that reform will hurt American businesses.

Today, the Washington Post catches the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the mythmaking process - highlighting emails the anti-reform group is sending around in search of an economist to write a report saying this legislation is a job killer. This new report would be the latest in a string of industry-funded sham studies designed to mislead the public about the impact of health insurance reform.

Here are the details of the all-too-revealing U.S. Chamber of Commerce email obtained by the Washington Post:

The e-mail, written by the Chamber's senior health policy manager and obtained by The Washington Post, proposes spending $50,000 to hire a 'respected economist' to study the impact of health-care legislation, which is expected to come to the Senate floor this week, would have on jobs and the economy.

Step two, according to the e-mail, appears to assume the outcome of the economic review: 'The economist will then circulate a sign-on letter to hundreds of other economists saying that the bill will kill jobs and hurt the economy. We will then be able to use this open letter to produce advertisements, and as a powerful lobbying and grass-roots document.'

But the real bad news for America's small businesses - the number one job creators in our country - would be if health insurance reform were stopped in its tracks.

  • Without reform small businesses would pay nearly $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years in health care costs for their workers, according to a report by the Small Business Majority. With reform, small businesses can save as much as $855 billion - money that can be reinvested in their businesses to grow the economy.
  • Last week, the Business Roundtable, representing the CEOs of the nation's largest companies, reported that reform could save large employers up to $3,000 per employee within 10 years.
  • MIT Economist Jonathan Gruber reports that reform will save about 80,000 jobs in the small business sector over the next decade. 

Below are a few related myths claiming the Affordable Health Care for America Act is bad for small businesses.

MYTH:  H.R. 3962 harms small businesses by raising taxes and making them cover workers.

FACT:  Both claims are wrong.  The House bill is good for small businesses and for working Americans - allowing them access to affordable, large-group rates in their health insurance policies and insurance plans with better benefits, and eliminating discriminatory rating practices.

According to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), the surcharge would not affect 98.8 percent of all small businesses. Only 1.2 percent of the wealthiest Americans with any income from a sole proprietorship, a partnership or an s corporation would be affected by the health care surcharge. The 1.2 percent wealthiest small business owners will only be subject to the health care surcharge on dollars earned above $1 million for a couple and $500,000 for an individual. 

Approximately 86 percent of all businesses are exempt from the shared responsibility requirement to cover or contribute to coverage for their workers and family members - all small businesses with payrolls up to $500,000.  Those small businesses with payrolls up to $750,000 pay only a graduated fee for not meeting the shared responsibility requirement. Those businesses that are subject to the requirement or that choose to offer coverage will have access to the insurance reforms and other consumer protections, transparency and lower administrative costs in the Exchange to make coverage more affordable and meaningful for everyone. Additionally, many small businesses will be eligible for a new tax credit to help firms provide health coverage.