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Kerry, Snowe Push Finance Committee on Small Business Health Care
Date:10/24/2007

Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Ranking Member Charles Grassley

Senate Committee on Finance

219 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Baucus and Ranking Member Grassley:

As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, we are committed to ensuring that small business owners and their employees have access to quality, affordable health care options. Building on the work of the Committee in previous years, we held a hearing in February of 2007 on the Committee's top priority: Finding new solutions to the small business health insurance crisis. Among the topics discussed by the Committee were tax-based approaches to making health coverage more affordable for small businesses and self-employed sole proprietors, as well as the use of existing programs -- such as S-CHIP -- to bring a range of insurance options to small firms. As senior members of the Finance Committee, we applaud your longstanding leadership on this issue, and we appreciate your holding this week's Committee hearing.

Small firms face distinct challenges in the health care marketplace due to insufficient access to a broad choice of quality insurance options and the bargaining and risk-sharing limitations of small group size. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, health insurance premiums have increased by an astounding 87 percent since 2000 -- more than four times the growth in wages. Only 45 percent of firms with fewer than 10 employees are now offering health insurance -- down from 56 percent in 1999. Of the nearly 47 million uninsured Americans today, 23 million work for small businesses.

We believe that, after the reauthorization and strengthening of S-CHIP, addressing the distinct health insurance access and affordability challenges facing small employers and their workers is the next necessary step on the path toward comprehensive health ca
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SOURCE U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship
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