Obama discusses “health insurance reform” and small business

President Obama continues to try to change the game by changing the name in this week’s address, as he appeals to citizens to put pressure on lawmakers to enact “health insurance reform” instead of “health care reform.”

The new phrase was noted as becoming a favorite with the president last week, and this morning’s remarks further emphasize the linguistic–and framing–shift. This is an important distinction. He’s changing the discussion by focusing on the insured-but-anxious sector instead of the uninsured.

Workers worried they may lose their coverage if they become too sick, or lose their job, or change jobs.  Families who fear they may not be able to get insurance, or change insurance, if someone in their family has a pre-existing condition.  And small business owners trying to make a living and do right by the people they employ.

Those small business owners are the focus this week, being held up as examples of nearly inconic Americana, being broken and driven out of business by spiraling insurance costs.

Because they lack the bargaining power that large businesses have and face higher administrative costs per person, small businesses pay up to 18 percent more for the very same health insurance plans – costs that eat into their profits and get passed on to their employees.

As a result, small businesses are much less likely to offer health insurance.  Those that do tend to have less generous plans.  In a recent survey, one third of small businesses reported cutting benefits.  Many have dropped coverage altogether.  And many have shed jobs, or shut their doors entirely.

This is unsustainable, it’s unacceptable, and it’s going to change when I sign health insurance reform into law.

He touts the ways small businesses will benefit under his proposed plan: through accessing insurance exchanges and using new tax credits. Employees of businesses that opt out will be provided with subsidies (without fear of rejection for pre-existing conditions), Insurers will be limited on how much they can charge the insured for out-of-pocket expenses.

Obama also takes aim at those like Sen. Jim DeMint, who promised to break him over the health reform issue:

Now I know there are those who are urging us to delay reform.  And some of them have actually admitted that this is a tactic designed to stop any reform at all.  Some have even suggested that, regardless of its merits, health care reform should be stopped as a way to inflict political damage on my Administration.  I’ll leave it to them to explain that to the American people.

What I’m concerned about is the damage that’s being done right now to the health of our families, the success of our businesses, and the long-term fiscal stability of our government.

He closes with his customary call for urgent action when dealing with reform.

This debate is not a political game for these Americans, and they cannot afford to keep waiting for reform.  We owe it to them to finally get it done – and to get it done this year.

The full address can be found beneath the fold, or on the White House website.


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