Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) suggested that requiring employers to share the costs of expanding access to health insurance would add “$12,000 to the cost of employing anyone with a family” and lead to greater unemployment and lower wages:
Small businesses are the job engine of America, and I will make it easier for them to grow and create more jobs. My opponent wants to make it harder by imposing a ‘pay or play’ health mandate on small business.
But the rising costs of health insurance are already making it harder for small businesses to “grow and create more jobs.” According to a recent study from the Institute of Medicine, “the lost human capital related to lack of health insurance — including lost earning potential and the value of extra years of life — is as much as $170 billion.”
As the Small Business Majority points out, the current system is broken. Small businesses either “pay the overblown and disproportionate costs in purchasing and administering a health care plan or, worse, offer no health care plan at all and suffer the competitive disadvantage in attracting and retaining talented labor.”
To ensure that small businesses aren’t overwhelmed by the growing costs of health care, “all interest groups — business owners, employees, the health care community and government” must step-up and contribute through the concept of shared responsibility. Such an approach would save small businesses from the inadequacies of the current system.
Small businesses are willing “to pay their fair share”:
When part of a larger solution that includes pooling, cost controls and government subsidies, [employer] mandates offer useful tools in building comprehensive reform…Small businesses are prepared to pay their fair share: nothing less, nothing more.”
But unfortunately, McCain’s rhetoric suggests that he doesn’t understand the cost of doing nothing. McCain’s proposals don’t address the out-of-control costs of providing health care coverage and do nothing to ameliorate the current crisis. Progressives would control costs and provide new opportunities for small businesses to purchase affordable coverage.