As the national Public Policy Chair of the National Association of Women Business Owners, I traveled to Washington, DC, in late September to participate in a national summit on health care reform hosted by the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC).
I was joined by NAWBO’s immediate past board chair and current PAC chair, Cynthia McClain Hill, and national director, Deborah Stallings.
The NWBC is mandated by Congress to advise the President, the Congress and the Small Business Administration on issues of interest to women entrepreneurs. Along with representatives from key women’s organizations, we heard from medical practitioners, insurance providers, patient advocates and policy makers, including members of the White House staff and Congressional staff.
After listening to these panelists, participants discussed the issues at the heart of the current health care reform debate.
As a result of the discussion, the National Women’s Business Council recently submitted a letter to President Barack Obama, key congressional leaders and SBA Administrator Karen Mills, stating that Summit participants had reached consensus and recommend that the following four principles be included in the final version of health care reform legislation:
Accessibility: The marketplace must offer a menu of customized programs from which individuals can select coverage.
Affordability: Insurance should have transparent, per capita pricing. Parity should exist for service to be purchased across state lines, and tort reform and use of electronic medical records are essential to cost reduction.
Portability: Health insurance should be individually-owned, and travel with an employee as a personal plan when the individual departs a job.
Wellness: The entire community should become active in wellness education. Individuals should take responsibility for lifestyle choices like smoking and obesity. Employers might provide healthy options and incentives.
Unfortunately, the legislation that passed the House last Saturday did not contain a single provision for wellness, nor did it include tort reform and other provisions to control costs and thus make health care more affordable for small businesses.