The state’s top doctor said “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010” recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court would benefit the black community greatly.
“The bill (beginning Jan. 1, 2014) allows for parents to carry their children up to age 26 on their health insurance; those with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage; and those with health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure do not necessarily have to go to free, public health clinics, which sometimes can be discouraging, and instead go to their nearby health clinic or select a primary physician at a hospital,” explained Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “This bill will (also) ensure that those from our community have preventive, low cost measures just like those who are ‘well off’ and can afford quality healthcare.”
The newly hired physician from New York estimates that 1.9 million Illinois residents currently do not have health insurance and that blacks tend to wait until the last minute to seek medical care often due to no insurance.
While all Americans will be required to purchase health insurance by 2014 (either through their employer or on their own) small businesses with fewer than 50 employees are exempt. That means the overwhelming majority – 96 percent of all businesses in the U.S. or 5.8 million out of 6 million total businesses in the country are exempt from the requirement to contribute to the coverage of their employees, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
And White House officials are spelling out exactly how small businesses would benefit greatly from the new law. According to Jason Furman, assistant to the president for Economic Policy, other benefits small businesses can expect from the president’s healthcare bill include:
*Tax credits for certain small businesses that choose to offer coverage. Currently, small businesses that have fewer than 25 employees and provide health insurance can qualify for a tax credit of up to 35 percent (up to 25 percent for non-profits) to offset the cost of insurance.
*No insurance requirement for small businesses. Every small business with fewer than 50 employees is completely exempt from the law’s employer responsibility provisions. Furman said that means the overwhelming majority – 96 percent of all businesses in the U.S. or 5.8 million out of 6 million total businesses in the country are exempt from the requirement to contribute to the coverage of their employees.
*Lowering premiums by cutting red tape and increasing competition among insurers. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the Affordable Care Act would cause premiums to fall up to 4 percent in the small group market, and up to 11 percent for businesses receiving tax credits. And according to the U.S. Department of Labor, administrative costs could run as high as 30 percent for small businesses, compared with 7 percent for larger businesses.
*Spurring entrepreneurship and increasing competition by giving talented workers flexibility to join small businesses or startup. By making coverage more affordable, Furman said the law will help spur entrepreneurial activity by increasing the incentives for talented Americans to launch their own companies and help end what he described as “job lock,” in which employees are reluctant to leave a job with health insurance out of fear that they will not be able to find affordable coverage elsewhere.
Alisa Starks, founder and president of Inner City Entertainment Inc., which owns two Chicago movie theaters, 210 E. 87th St. and 3330 W. Roosevelt Road, said she employs around 50 employees, who are mostly black, and spends $5,000 a month on health insurance premiums.
Due to the struggling economy Starks said ICE plans to reduce its healthcare cost from paying 100 percent of the premium to a lesser amount. She is not sure what impact the new healthcare bill will have on small businesses since those with fewer than 50 employees are exempt, but said, “I fully support the bill.”
Other small, black business owners are excited about the possibilities the new healthcare bill could bring.
“The new bill will lower costs to taxpayers who often pickup the tab for the uninsured. It also provides a savings for small businesses with a tax credit,” said Dr. Niva Lubin-Johnson, a black physician, whose healthcare office, Quality Primary Care at 8541 S. State St., has two employees that cost her $1,200 a month in healthcare premiums. “I would have like to see the bill address the rising cost of malpractice insurance for doctors but providing healthcare access to all Americans is a great start.”
During the past 60 years there have been several attempts to do what President Obama eventually accomplished as America’s first black president and that’s create some form of universal healthcare.
Under President Lyndon B. Johnson Medicaid (for the poor) and Medicare (for the elderly) was created in 1965; in 1986 President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), which mandates employers to allow employees to stay on the company health insurance up to 18 months after leaving employment; President Bill Clinton signed the Balanced Budget Bill in 1997, which has a provision that allocates $24 billion to provide health insurance to uninsured children in families of modest means whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid; and in 2003 President George W. Bush signed Medicare Part D, which subsidizes the cost of prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries and is administered by private health insurance plans.