Az business groups oppose health care reform
Law before U.S. Supreme Court bad for small firms, some say
PHOENIX – Businesses and business organizations in Arizona have widely come out in opposition to the health care law being argued before the U.S. Supreme Court this week, arguing that its provisions will increase costs.
“It’s about getting the health coverage you want at a price you can afford. Neither of those are helped by this law,” said Farrell Quinlan, Arizona director of the National Federation of Independent Business, a petitioner in the case. “Instead it aggregates a lot of power to the federal government over our lives.”
Some of the issues the law addresses are problems both sides can agree need to be changed, such as refusing coverage based on pre-existing conditions, Quinlan said. But a complete change of the system isn’t the way to go, he said.
“We engaged in this process over the past decades on this and we were very disappointed in what Congress and the administration came up with,” Quinlan said.
Quinlan said the U.S. health care system has been moving toward a public, single-server system for many years.
“This law could be the final death of the private health care system,” he said.
The National Federation of Independent Business has 350,000 members, 7,500 of them in Arizona. The group’s northern Arizona vice president is Joy Staveley, president and owner of Canyoneers Inc., a Flagstaff-based rafting and camping company, who said she worries the quality of care will decline while her costs rise if the Supreme Court upholds the law.
Under the law, her company wouldn’t be required to provide health coverage to employees because fewer than 50 people work there, but Staveley said it wouldn’t be practical to expand beyond 50 employees.
“If we were forced to do this, we would go out of business,” Staveley said. “I’m praying that the Supreme Court finds the administration out-stepped themselves on this one.”
Todd Sanders, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, said no member of his group expressed support for the law.
“We believe in a market-based approach compared to a government-based approach,” he said.
If the law is declared constitutional, however, Sanders said he would like to see an Arizona-specific exchange program to facilitate purchasing insurance instead of using a federal system.
The state is still looking into that option.
Don Hughes, Gov. Jan Brewer’s health care policy advisor, is tasked with laying groundwork for the law even though Arizona is one of the states seeking to overturn it.
“We believe people still have the freedom to buy health insurance or not buy health insurance,” he said.
If the law does get through the Supreme Court, Hughes said, he will support an Arizona-specific exchange program because any law solely for Arizona would work better than a federal program.