In wake of Trump’s promise to repeal ACA and cut Medicaid dollars, MSA-VT small business owners call for a health care system that works for all

Republicans in Congress and President-elect Trump have declared a plan to rush through legislation that would take away health care from more than 30 million people. If the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed without a replacement, it is estimated that 35,000 Vermonters will lose their health insurance.

“Our current health care system isn’t perfect, but rather than focus on strengthening the coverage, the Republican plan would do just the opposite: it rolls back the most important protections,” said Jen Kimmich, co-owner of The Alchemist and chair of the Board of Main Street Alliance of Vermont. “The Republican plan returns us to the bad old days when small business owners paid more for less coverage, got charged twice as much in administrative costs as larger groups, and small businesses had no leverage and no real choices. Small businesses will be vulnerable to continued price gouging by health insurers, and retain no bargaining power, risk pooling, or benefits of economies of scale.”

Vermont has demonstrated, through the success of programs like Dr. Dynasaur and Catamount, that putting the health of families and individuals first has serious positive impacts on overall health of our communities and the strength of our state.

“We’ve done this by working together, across party lines, to do what is right,” said Kimmich.

In Vermont, nearly 13,300 people have enrolled in Medicaid since 2013. This increased coverage for lower-income adults is largely due to dollars made available through medicaid expansion. Trump and his Republican allies in Congress plan to eliminate Medicaid expansion that has made this coverage possible.

“I own a very small Vermont business, and I am a Medicaid recipient. Without this support, I would likely have to close my shop to find a job with benefits. Medicaid and the subsidies that are available through the Affordable Care Act go a long way to keep owners of micro-businesses, like myself, from falling through the cracks,” said Cecile Johnston, owner of Jumping Raindrops Sewing & Design in Montpelier, and a member of MSA-VT’s Leadership Circle. "The system that we've built, which still largely ties health insurance to employment, keeps care -- even for those who have coverage -- just out of reach. Whether the employer or employee pays the monthly premium or they split it, many Vermonters still face exorbitant deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, which encourages putting off care until it's an emergency. And when people delay care until it is an emergency, the care they need to return them to health is more expensive, which increases costs for all."

Roughly 80% of private sector businesses in Vermont employ fewer than 10 employees. Small businesses are the engine of our state’s economy. Main Street Alliance of Vermont believes that the support Medicaid and the ACA’s premium subsidies offer encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. Being able to find health coverage without access to traditional employment benefits means that people aren’t tied to jobs -- they have the freedom to start new and grow existing Vermont small businesses.

“Instead of repealing the Affordable Care Act or doing away with expanded Medicaid, our leaders should be focused on improving our current system: lowering premiums, lowering deductibles, giving people a better choice of doctors and hospitals. We look with confidence to our Governor-elect and our Congressional delegation to do everything in their power to prevent rolling back health coverage for Vermont and our country,” added Kimmich. “Together, we can create a health care system that supports healthy families and communities and strong small businesses.”  

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