26 August 2006 at 11:26:15 AM
Interesting. Business groups that include National Federation of Independent Business, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the Texas Association of Business (that's the association that illegally helped Sid Miller in the 2002 election) are backing Chet. They supported Arlene Wolgemuth in the last election.
Van Taylor's group isn't too happy about it, because being Pro-Business is a Republican trait, and it knocks the wind of out of Nicholas Van Campen (aka Pork and Beans) Taylor's stance to say that Edwards has low-business ratings. So WHY are pro-business groups for Edwards?
While NFIB and Chamber representatives acknowledge giving Edwards support ratings as low as 21 percent and 42 percent in the past, the groups said they recognize incumbents who are supporting their interests now.
The groups said Edwards earned their support by calling for the permanent repeal of the estate tax and boosting health insurance reforms designed to lower premiums for small businesses.
Republican Democrat Edwards did vote with the Republicans on that crazy ole estate tax swindle, that benefits the rich that MOST Democrats didn't want since it was a goodie bag for the wealthy.
And what about the health insurance reforms? (This used to be called Associated Health Plans and is now renamed Small Business Health Plan)
April 26, 2005--The lack of consensus towards creating Association Health Plans (AHPs) could lead to a "compromise legislation" in the Senate that would use the premise of an AHP proposal but also include other approaches like streamlining state insurance regulations and easing costly benefit mandates, said the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) chairman, U.S. Senator Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.).
Advocates of AHPs--or federally regulated insurance pools--have said that small businesses should be able to pool their purchasing power to enjoy some of the advantages that large employers have. AHPs could be the way to bring that power to small businesses, say advocates. But critics have opposed the idea on the account that AHPs could ultimately end up driving premiums even higher.
Why do businesses want it so badly (I ask cynically)? If it is HB2073, not sure, then small businesses get a 50 percent tax credit on their IRS taxes in order to use group insurance to cover employees. On the face of it, I can't fault that, since I figure why shouldn't the taxpayer help out those who work for small businesses that might not otherwise be able to provide health care coverage? I do wonder, though, about what constitutes a "small business"-remember how, during the election, Dick Cheney qualified as a small business owner?
Here's some "con" on AHP's
California- Small businesses face special challenges in providing affordable health insurance to their employees. Faced with these challenges, business associations have long supported efforts to permit development of insurance products that reduce state regulations. ..
According to two reports sponsored by CHCF, AHPs would leave less of the market under state supervision. The greatest impact would be on California’s currently heavily regulated small-group market where AHPs would likely attract small businesses with healthy employees, lowering their rates. However, costs for small groups with sicker employees would likely increase. Additionally, AHPs would not result in a net reduction in the number of California’s uninsured.
Some more from when the Senate debated this (as you read this, smack your head in astonishment that Republicans, who are supposed to be for states rights, are so systematically gutting state laws that protect in favor of federal government)
The Senate on Thursday blocked legislation (S 1955) that would have allowed small businesses to join together and create association health plans, falling five votes short of the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture and limit debate, the Wall Street Journal reports. The measure was defeated in a 55-43 vote, mostly along party lines (Lueck, Wall Street Journal, 5/12). The bill, sponsored by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), would allow small businesses and trade associations to form association health plans across state lines. Under the bill, insurers would be permitted to sell plans to businesses and individuals that do not meet current state benefits requirements. However, they then also would have to offer a plan with benefits provided under a state employees' plan in one of the five most heavily populated states -- California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas. In addition, the bill would preempt state laws that limit how much insurers can vary premiums from one small business to another (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 5/11). Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), a bill co-sponsor, and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) broke party lines and voted to consider the bill. Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) voted against the measure (Schuler, CQ Today, 5/11). According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, "failure to limit debate usually dooms legislation" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/12). However, Enzi said he would work with Democrats to seek a compromise that would allow the bill to be brought up again later this year. According to the Los Angeles Times, [S]upporters and opponents agreed that this week represented the best chance in years of passing the legislation" (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 5/12).
Supporters of the measure, which included the Bush administration, said it would help more small companies offer coverage by freeing them from having to comply with expensive and varying state requirements (Wall Street Journal, 5/12). "I'm pleased with the vote we got. I'm disappointed we didn't get to 60, ... but this is the first time the Senate has gotten it to a cloture vote," Enzi said (CQ Today, 5/11). "Obviously, we have some more work to do," Enzi added (Wall Street Journal, 5/12). He said, "[The] campaign of misinformation directed at the American public is deeply troubling. However, I am confident that when Americans understand the truth about this bill, they will support it in overwhelming numbers" (CongressDaily, 5/11).
Opponents said the measure would have allowed insurers and small businesses to bypass state-mandated protections and, in some cases, increase costs for firms with sicker workers (Wall Street Journal, 5/12). Democrats said the measure would have harmed about as many people as it would have helped, according to the AP/Houston Chronicle (Freking, AP/Houston Chronicle, 5/11). Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said, "I think tonight we avoided taking a step backward" (CQ Today, 5/11). Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) said he opposed the measure because the Senate should let each individual state "decide how it can best serve its people when it comes to health care coverage" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/12). Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said, "California has one of the most comprehensive sets of required insurance benefits in the country. The reality is that any attempt to 'harmonize' state benefit mandates will likely result in harm to Californians" (Los Angeles Times, 5/12). Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said the measure would have preempted requirements in his state that insurers cover, including treatments for alcoholism, contraceptives, diabetes supplies and home health care. He said, "It kind of makes you wonder what's going to be left to be covered" (AP/Houston Chronicle, 5/11). Todd Stottlemyer, president of the National Federation of Independent Business, which supported the measure, said that it was "incredibly disheartening" that a minority of senators "used Senate rules to block a final vote on legislation favored by a clear majority" (Wall Street Journal, 5/12).
I don't have time to read the bill right now, but not only does it gut states protections, but gives a tax break to businesses that still aren't going to cover certain things?
Update: I did find a FactCheck on HB525, vote count was 227 Republicans FOR and 164 Democrats against (Chet was one of 36 who voted with the Republicans).
I don't think this bill has passed the Senate
The Chamber ad also exaggerates the likely benefits of this proposal for small businesses. It says the plan "may save them upwards of 30 percent." But the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued an estimate May 3 saying of the Senate version: "Under the bill, premiums in the small-group market are expected to average about 2 percent to 3 percent lower than otherwise." The CBO says savings will vary widely, so its possible that somebody could save more than 30 per cent, but overall the CBO figures businesses will save less than one-tenth of what the Chamber ad suggests.
The Chamber defended its 30 per cent estimate, saying an earlier CBO study from January 2000 had estimated premium reductions at 13 per cent for a version of the bill then being considered by the House, and that the Chamber's own experts expected additional savings that the CBO did not take into account. Chamber spokesman Bill Miller also said the current Senate version of the bill lacks some cost-saving features of the bill that Rep. Bean voted for in the House.
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