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Small Business Owners Say the Future Looks Bleak If Health Care Law Overturned

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Over the past several weeks, the nation's attention has been focused on the arguments being made in the Supreme Court about the constitutionality of the health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act.

Pundits have been making one prediction after another as to how the high court will rule. But what we haven't heard are predictions about what will happen to small businesses if the law were overturned.

As a group of long-standing small business owners who have been suffering for decades under ever-rising healthcare costs, it's frightening to think the safeguards put in place by the law could be undone with the drop of a gavel.

The new law has already reined in costs through provisions like the Medical Loss Ratio, which requires at least 80 percent of small groups' premium dollars be spent on patient care instead of administrative costs. Just a couple years ago, I was quoted a 130 percent increase to my premium. This year, because of the MLR provision, it increased by just 4 percent -- the smallest premium increase I've seen in 10 years.

Numerous others in our group have benefitted from the small business tax credits in the law. This year, Portland-based small business owner Mike Roach expects to see more than $7,000 back from the credit. A lot has been said about the tax credits not being robust enough to help small business owners, but as small employers constantly watching our bottom lines, we can say without hesitation that no small business owner will ever turn down a tax credit -- whether they think it's robust or not. Free money is always welcome.

And in two more years, we'll see even more help through state health insurance exchanges. We'll be able to pool our buying power with our fellow small business owners and enjoy the same kind of buying power large companies currently have. Not only would that lower our costs overall, but it would put us on a level playing field with big companies in recruiting and retaining talented employees.

For decades we've listened to elected officials, insurance companies, the media and small business organizations -- including the National Federation of Independent Business, one of the plaintiffs in the suit -- lament the high cost of health insurance for small business owners. Double-digit, and even triple-digit increases were the norm. The Affordable Care Act is the first significant break small businesses have had regarding our health insurance costs. Without it, we'd be mired once again in a system that drains our coffers and hampers our growth. An economic analysis commissioned by Small Business Majority found that without reform, our health care costs would more than double to $2.4 trillion by 2018 and 178,000 small business jobs would be lost as a result.

Overturning the law would not help us. It would hurt is.

While the NFIB says it's bringing this suit on behalf of small businesses, with all due respect to the owners who are members, most of the nation's mom and pop businesses aren't. Hundreds of thousands of us are benefitting from the Affordable Care Act in multiple ways.

We hope the Supreme Court justices are aware of that fact as they deliberate on this historic piece of legislation.