En Español Know Your Rights
Source: Daily News
Subject: Health Justice & Access
Type: Media Coverage

Small businesses have big impact on health care; many favor public health insurance

There are
pundits and politicians who repeat – as if it were an article of faith – that
business owners oppose President Obama’s proposal to give people the choice of
a public health insurance plans.

 


Don’t
believe it.

 


A recent
survey found that the city’s small business owners want real health care
reform, favor a public health insurance option and are willing to pay into a
system of shared responsibility.

 
 

"As a
small business owner, I’m willing to contribute, I’m willing to pay my fair
share for a real health care solution," said Freddy Castiblanco, the owner
of Terraza Cafe in Jackson Heights, Queens.

 


A
practicing physician in his native Colombia,
Castiblanco was one of 202 small business owners surveyed in New
York City
, Long Island, Albany,
Binghampton and Buffalo.

 


The
report, titled "The Pulse of Main Street, New York: Small Businesses,
Health Insurance, and Views on Reform," was released Thursday.

 
 

A
veritable myth buster, the survey was conducted by Small Business United for
Health Care, a coalition sponsored by the community group
Make the Road New York, and affiliated with the national Main Street Alliance,
a network of small business organizations.

 


Surprising
as it may be, most of those surveyed said they are willing to spend more to
make health care work.

 


Sixty-four
percent stated that they would pay 4% to 7% of payroll or more to guarantee
quality, affordable coverage for themselves and their employees.

 


The survey
also found a clear preference – more than 4 to 1 – for a public alternative to
private coverage over an expanded private market option.

 


"The
health insurance companies have had a captive audience of us for too
long," said Doris Lozada, owner of LD Home Contractors in Forest Hills, Queens, who also participated in the study.

 


"I
believe we need a quality public option so we can’t be held hostage by the
industry any more."


The
businesses may be small, but their impact on the city’s economy is huge. There
are 220,000 of them that give jobs to more than half of private-sector
employees. The small businesses’ support is a big boost for the President’s
health care reform plan. 

In
poignant testimony before the House Small Businesses Committee on June 3,
Castiblanco, who started his business eight years ago and today employs 11
neighborhood people, laid out the view of many small business owners on health
care reform.

  

He told
the committee about his frustration with being unable to purchase a group
health insurance plan for his employees and their families.

 


"I
have found, however, that the costs of decent health coverage are completely
unaffordable for a business like mine," Castiblanco said.

 


"It
pains me, as an employer and as a doctor, that my employees and their families
do not have the opportunity to get routine care that would help them lead a
healthier life."

 


But
Castiblanco said he was confident small businesses could help the country
regain its economic stability by creating new jobs and generating new revenue
in their local economies.

 


"But
we need to be able to count on quality, affordable health care for our
employees to make this happen," he said.

  

This won’t
be possible, said Castiblanco reflecting the opinion of most of those surveyed,
without a stronger role for government.

 


"That’s
why I support the creation of a quality public health insurance option,"
he said.

 


CLARIFICATION:
In Thursday’s column we took the President to task for twice suspending a
meeting with congressional leaders to map immigration reform this year. In
fact, the White House announced Wednesday after our deadline that the meeting
is set for June 25.