Some small business advocates warn that a Republican plan to revamp health care could stifle entrepreneurship.
A Congressional Budget Office report has increased opposition to the bill that would replace the Affordable Care Act enacted under the Obama administration. The CBO said last week that the bill, which GOP leaders hope to bring to a House vote this week, would result in 14 million people losing coverage next year, and 24 million by 2026.
Citing a January Treasury Department report, the Small Business Majority says the GOP plan, which is supported by President Donald Trump, could deter would-be small business owners from starting companies. The Treasury said one in five people who bought insurance on exchanges created under the ACA was a small business owner or self-employed.
“It’s going to have a chilling effect on entrepreneurship,” says John Arensmeyer, CEO of the Small Business Majority. “We have small business owners who would have to give up their dream — some started businesses because of it.”
Small companies could also lose employees under the plan, Arensmeyer says. If they’re unable to afford individual coverage and their employers are not able to provide it, workers could seek jobs at larger businesses where insurance is offered, he says.
Small business groups have been split over the ACA. Some argue that the law, which requires companies with 50 or more employees to offer insurance to employees and their dependents, imposes an unfair financial burden on small businesses. Others support it, saying it has enabled more small businesses to offer coverage and allowed people to leave jobs and start their own companies.
Karen Kerrigan, president of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, says the GOP plan could increase competition among insurers, making more insurance plans available and giving people including entrepreneurs more options than they have under the ACA. Kerrigan also questions whether insurance is a key factor in entrepreneurship, and notes that would-be owners also face challenges including the inability to find financing.
“There are more things beyond health insurance that are bigger (issues),” she says.
The fate of the GOP proposal is unclear. Although it has the support of most Republicans, some moderate and conservative lawmakers have said they will vote against it, joining Democrats who are solidly against the bill.
–The Associated Press