Health Insurance Reform Mythbuster: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Caught In Myth Making Process

Health insurance reform opponents continue to spread myths about the recently-passed Affordable Health Care for America Act, including claiming that reform will hurt American businesses. Today, the Washington Post caught the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the myth making process – obtaining an email the anti-reform group sent around in search of a “respected economist” to write a report saying the bill will “kill jobs”. 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.

The revealing details from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce email as reported 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.”

The House bill is good for businesses and working Americans. Without reform, America's small businesses — the number one job creators in our country — would lose out if health reform was stopped:

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.

MIT Economist Jonathan Gruber testified that “under reform workers in small businesses will see an increase in their take-home pay of almost $30 billion/year, and that reform would save about 80,000 jobs in the small business sector by 2019.

And reform doesn’t just help small businesses — 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.

We’ve done this myth before, but here we go again:

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

FACT: Both claims are wrong. Insurance costs for small businesses have increased 129% since 2000 and right now small business employees pay an average of 18% more in premiums than those in large firms for the same benefits (and their deductibles are more than double). The House bill is good for small businesses and for working Americans — health insurance reform means access to affordable, large-group rates in their health insurance policies and insurance plans with better benefits, and eliminating discriminatory rating practices–and assistance in providing coverage.

According to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), the surcharge would not affect 98.8% of all small businesses. Only 1.2% 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% 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.

the surcharge would not affect 98.8% of all small businesses

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, the bill provides a tax credit to small businesses over a two-year period to help them transition to or continue providing health benefits to their employees — paying up to 50% of their costs based on size and average wages.

Learn more about how health reform helps small businesses>>