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**In Case You Missed It** Louisiana Small Business Owners Need Health Care Reform

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following Letters to the Editor from Louisiana small business owners were published in papers throughout the state, including: The Time Picayune, The News Star, The Shreveport Times and The Advocate. In the letters, the small business owners highlight the need for health care reform to lower the cost burden for their businesses and increase stability. Newspapers and online news sites are invited to reprint them:

"Time is now for health-care reform"

The Advocate

December 4, 2009

I was pleased to see the debate over health care is to continue through full debate on the Senate floor. Health-care reform can't come soon enough for small businesses like mine.

The facts are pretty brutal: "Small business owners and their employees account for the largest share of the uninsured population -- an estimated 27 million of the 47 million Americans without health care." (Center for American Progress, Oct. 30, 2008)

If true small businesses like ours are the backbone of the economy, we're getting our backs broken by rising health-care costs.

We offer a group policy, but rates have gone up so much for a small business like ours (we currently have four employees) that none of our workers can afford insurance.

My husband and I are struggling in this economic downturn to pay our premiums. This is due to rising costs in the past two consecutive years, along with a rise in the deductible.

Something needs to be done. There are several things that really need to be fixed.

We've got to put an end to pre-existing condition clauses -- it's just not right that insurance companies can deny coverage or game the system to push people out after they get sick.

Health care needs to be portable, too.

And I'd like to see more choices on the table, so small businesses could band together to share responsibility. This could save jobs and increase affordability.

The solutions are within reach, the House already has passed a good reform bill, and with strong leadership in the Senate, we have an opportunity to enact reform that will finally solve this problem for small businesses like ours.

With health-care costs continuing to skyrocket with no end in sight, we can't afford to wait another year for health care-reform.

Now is the time.

Mary Black

Baton Rouge

"Health Reform Now"

The Shreveport Times

November 30, 2009

For more than 20 years I have owned a chain of small businesses in Louisiana, and each year it gets tougher and tougher because of the high cost of health care. With premiums quoted as high as $500 a month per employee, it is impossible for me to afford insurance for my workers and still keep my business afloat. Yet, because I can't afford to provide insurance, it is that much harder for my business to grow and compete.

Like most small business owners, my employees are like family. That is why it was devastating to have a long-time employer leave my company because another, larger, company would help provide insurance. Three years later, she returned with a pay increase, but shortly after was diagnosed with a serious illness and now drives over an hour to see a doctor at a hospital she can barely afford without insurance. Now, with a condition, my employer couldn't get insurance even if she -- and I -- could afford it.

Small business owners like me cannot wait for stable affordable health insurance options. We need our leaders in Washington to pass the right healthcare reform measures to keep small businesses alive and growing.

Mecheall Williams

Bossier City

"Business needs health reform"

The Times Picayune

November 30, 2009

As the owner of an emerging business on a tight budget, I've experienced first-hand how broken our health care system is.

In July 2008, I purchased a policy through Aetna for $302 a month. This past July, at renewal time, Aetna raised my premium to $385 a month. Within a month, almost immediately, they raised it again to $471. It was a 56 percent increase over the last year. The uncertainty forced me to cancel my healthcare coverage.

Although currently I have a very small business, I see real potential for growth. Soon, I look forward to hiring additional help and retaining employees by offering quality and affordable healthcare coverage. Unfortunately, under our current system, it's impossible.

Small businesses like mine need health care reform so we can do our part to create jobs and get the economy back on track. We need Congress to stand up for small businesses and get health reform passed this year.

Maude Varela

New Orleans

"Health reform helps business"

The News Star

November 17, 2009

As a small-business owner, I have struggled in vain for more than 22 years to find a way to provide health insurance for my employees.

Health insurance providers tell me I have too few employees to make a group. Or they tell me that some of my employees have pre-existing conditions that exclude them from a group and that would make the group too small.

The kind of highly educated, experienced people I prefer to hire nearly always have pre-existing conditions. Who doesn't have a pre-existing condition by age 30?

Because my business can't provide good health benefits effectively, I am restricted to hiring people who are covered by their spouse's medical insurance.

I hope and pray our representatives and senators soon pass federal legislation to help the really small businesses of America.

Barbara Biersmith


SOURCE U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship

SOURCE U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship
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