Small Business-owners Meet Senators, White House & Deliver a Message: Small Businesses Need Real Health Reform

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3- As Congress prepares for floor debates on health reform this week, the owners of over 130 small businesses from across the country flew into Washington, D.C., with one simple yet urgent message: America’s small businesses need real health reform.
Landscapers, chocolate-makers, home inspectors, and the owners of nail salons, cafes, bookstores, fishing boats, shoe stores and funeral parlors took a day off from running their businesses to make sure their voices are heard in a health care debate which is often mostly dominated by politicians and lobbyists for the health care industries.

“We’ve tried to do everything right. We run a successful business. We treat our employees like family. We haven’t bitten off more than we can chew. But now we’re in danger of losing everything simply because we don’t know if we can count on our health insurance to be there when we need it,” explained Bob Montoya, owner of Cedar Ridge Landscaping of Pueblo, Colorado.

“With children to raise, a business to run, and a wife to support, I’m afraid to go to the mailbox each day because of what the health care bills might say. This isn’t the way our country is supposed to work. The time for reform is now,” he added.

Montoya and small business owners from 24 states joined Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Chair of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, for a morning press conference on Capitol Hill.
At midday, the businesspeople attended a White House briefing on health care by Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Karen Mills, Administrator of the Small Business Administration.
The entrepreneurs also met with many of their Congressional representatives.

“For the more than 20 years, we have offered health insurance to our employees, but this has become ever increasingly more difficult to do. Our experience very closely mirrors the trends sited in several small business surveys. Our rates started rising dramatically a few years ago and have increased 83 percent since 2004,” noted Lia Lent, who co-owns the Community Bakery in Little Rock, Arkansas, with her husband.

The states from which businesspeople are coming include:
Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The four main sponsors of the unprecedented effort are U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Main Street Alliance, Small Business Majority, and Consumers Union.