SBAM Targets Health Insurance

    LANSING — The Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) has announced that small group health insurance reform is its top legislative priority for 2003.

    SBAM made the announcement to the Senate Small Business Committee in Lansing and noted that a key element of that reform is Michigan adopting the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) “rate bands” model.

    “Rating reform is needed now to help moderate the huge premium increases and introduce much needed competition in the small group health insurance market,” said Barry Cargill, vice president of government relations for SBAM.

    Another major priority is shaping the debate over a potential profit-based replacement tax for the Single Business Tax (SBT).

    “Although SBT will not be fully repealed until the end of 2009, we fully expect the debate over a replacement to the SBT to occur much sooner,” said Cargill. “However, before that debate takes place, we believe that the state economy must first return to prosperity so that the profits-based replacement tax does not become a means to plug a budget deficit.”

    Besides the health insurance reform, SBAM also plans to focus on supporting state budget cuts before tax and fee increases, breaking up telecommunications and utility monopolies to promote competitive choices and reliable service, and economic development policy changes to foster uniform standards and regulations to pre-empt so-called “living wage ordinances,” and eliminate the Michigan Prevailing Wage law.

    In addition, other legislative priorities include personal property tax phase-out, to promote Michigan tourism, support the development of fast-growing small business technology firms, support small business start-up assistance, urge state government to analyze the impact of laws and regulations affecting small business, and develop market-based solutions to environmental problems called “Green Gazelles,” which are comprehensive recycling and alternative energy sources.

    “We are pleased that the Senate has recognized the importance of small business in our state by establishing a Small Business Committee,” said Rob Fowler, CEO-elect of SBAM. “Innovation, risk-taking and job growth are generated by the men and women in this state who own their own small businesses. Small business owners take the risks because they hope to reap the rewards. But if the rewards are short-circuited by high health insurance costs, taxes and regulations, then we’ll see the risk-taking switched off as well.”   

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