Rep. Richmond Statement on the Accessibility of Health Insurance to Small Businesses

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), the Ranking Democrat on the Healthcare and Technology Subcommittee, delivered the following statement today at a hearing entitled, "Small Businesses and the PPACA: If They Like Their Coverage, Can they Keep It?":

"Today's hearing will focus on the health insurance landscape for small businesses since passage of the health care bill. Currently, employers are the principal source of health insurance in the U.S., providing benefits for more than 158 million people.

"Given the role of businesses in providing insurance, two questions have been raised about the Affordable Care Act. First, will small firms be able to keep existing health plans? And equally important, how will the Affordable Care Act affect small firms' decision to offer coverage? These are the questions we will address today.

"Small businesses face numerous challenges when choosing a health plan. This includes making tough choices about coverage benefits, which physicians should be part of the insurer's network, and what co-pays should apply to services.

"Yet, with all these challenges, costs remain the greatest barrier to coverage. According to one report, over the last decade health insurance premiums have increased 113%.

"The Affordable Care Act was enacted to lower costs and create more quality health care choices. Still, the legislation has not been without its critics. Some have argued that small firms will not only lose their ability to keep their plan, but most will drop coverage altogether.  We will hear from the administration and witnesses on both of these issues.

"On the matter of retaining current health plans, CMS has issued regulations outlining how firms can maintain so-called "grandfather status."  The regulation provides latitude for firms to make changes because of rising prices.  It also clarifies for firms what they need to do to keep their plan despite ACA changes.

"While protecting small businesses' ability to retain plans is important, the reality is many firms will make changes.  Historically, small firms changed plans due to rising prices or different benefit needs. Now, small firms will be afforded better service and choice when choosing a new plan."

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SOURCE House Committee on Small Business Democrats