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Republican health plan is a disaster for Minnesota’s small businesses

REUTERS/Eric Thayer
Instead of improving access and lowering costs, the GOP plan puts health care out of reach for many working families across Minnesota.

I love owning a small business, but it’s not without its challenges. Finding affordable health care is one of those challenges.

Todd Mikkelson

My wife and I had a new baby at the same time we were starting our own business, so health care coverage was essential. If we hadn’t had access to affordable coverage through Minnesota Care, one of us would have had to maintain other full-time employment with health-care benefits and our business would have never gotten off the ground.

Now President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress are pushing through a plan that would take health care away from 23 million people – including many of the 4 million newly insured small business owners, employees, and self-employed entrepreneurs like my wife and me. Instead of improving access and lowering costs, the GOP plan puts health care out of reach for many working families across Minnesota, and the House version jeopardizes protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The plan (details of the Senate version have just been released) also slashes Medicaid by $834 billion, threatening the health care of 74 million Americans who rely on Medicaid every day and creating huge deficits in state budgets.

Bad for the economy

Through these drastic cuts to Medicaid and to the tax credits that make buying coverage affordable, the repeal plan would cause premiums to skyrocket and possibly trigger the collapse of the private market. The plan would give $664 billion in tax cuts to the very wealthy and big corporations while forcing Minnesota small business owners back to a time when many of us couldn’t afford coverage at all.

What’s bad for consumers and local businesses is bad for the economy. Any economist will tell you that when people have more money in their pockets, they can spend more at local businesses.

When small businesses struggle to keep their doors open, there are fewer jobs for Minnesotans. And when a single illness or medical emergency can bankrupt a family, that family won’t be shopping at our small businesses or contributing to a robust economy.

The Republican repeal plan is only part of the problem. At the same time, Trump and the Republicans in Congress are actively sabotaging the ACA marketplaces, where about 200,000 Minnesotans are getting their coverage. One of the GOP’s tactics is threatening to hold back payments that lower out-of-pocket costs for consumers. Without these payments, fewer people will be able to afford coverage. With fewer customers, insurance companies might abandon many of the markets, especially in rural areas, or hike premiums.

Plan even includes an ‘age tax’

Does the ACA need some improvements? Of course. But we shouldn’t scrap what’s working for a new plan that increases costs, allows insurance companies to charge more for people with pre-existing conditions, and gives tax breaks to the wealthy and insurance and drug companies. The Republican House plan even includes an “age tax” that lets insurers charge older consumers five times more than younger ones!

Our leaders should be building on what works – not sabotaging progress for Minnesotans to score political points. House Republicans like Erik Paulsen have the opportunity to take a stand for Minnesotans and small businesses by rejecting the health care plan that President Trump and congressional Republicans have proposed.

A thriving health care market means I have a real choice. I can afford quality insurance to keep my family healthy and my business thriving. And like millions of newly insured Americans, I’m not interested in going backward.

Todd Mikkelson is the owner of “” in Orono. He visited his congressman, Rep. Eric Paulsen’s office in December to urge him to not vote for repeal of the Affordable Care Act. 


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Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 06/23/2017 - 02:44 pm.

    It’s a disaster for big employers, too

    All in all, it’s just a disaster, and should never become law. Never.

  2. Submitted by Garth Taylor on 06/24/2017 - 07:09 am.

    TRUMP/UPTON Health Care Plan

    The problem is not that it’s a disaster for small business. The problem is that small business owners support it.

  3. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/24/2017 - 08:04 am.

    Small business

    For a lot of businesses, the model for success is dependent on finding ways not to provide benefits for their employees. Some major American companies are based entirely on that. While I don’t think that particular business model should be illegal, it does seem obvious enough to me why our policy makers should not encourage. Let’s not punish companies that care enough about their employees to provide health insurance by making it harder for them to compete with those who don’t.

  4. Submitted by rolf westgard on 06/25/2017 - 09:39 am.

    Senators with courage

    Fortunately, several Republican senators will oppose the Trumpcare fiasco. Our disabled daughter and her parents are grateful.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 06/26/2017 - 09:32 am.

      Fat Chance

      My money says the vote will be 52-48. There is no thinner reed than a GOP moderate politician.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/26/2017 - 01:05 pm.

      The Courage of Lambs

      A few “moderate” Republicans are expressing misgivings. Their concerns will be met by a few half-baked concessions to their constituencies. These brave souls will proclaim themselves satisfied, and vote for the bill, even though it is largely in the same form it is now (“Mean,” one noted commentator called it).

      Two Republicans will be allowed to vote against it in order to preserve their reputations as courageous, independent thinkers.

  5. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 06/26/2017 - 09:40 am.

    You’re Missing the Point

    This is about a tax give away to the wealthy.

    The party of morality, the party of God fearing Christians, the pro life party will deny healthcare to millions, just so they can comfort the comfortable.

    And Evangelicals, who are infatuated with Trump and the GOP, will still vote for these craven politicians and tell us they are “pro life”.

    What has happened to this country that this is acceptable?

    • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 06/26/2017 - 12:32 pm.

      Not really

      Who pays for taxes? It’s not the wealthy, it’s those with higher incomes. Punitive tax policies actually protect the rich and is a barrier to those that want to earn more.

  6. Submitted by Tim Smith on 06/26/2017 - 10:41 am.

    Very puzzling

    The article is less about small business insurance than it is a left wing partisan mish mash hack job.
    How many small business owners qualify for public assistance aka Minnesota Care? How do we even know the impact the bill would have on Minnesota Care? We did a great job with our programs before the ACA and no reason to think we can’t take care of our own once it’s gone.

    Look at the devastation the ACA has caused our individual health market. More out of pocket, premiums more than doubled and networks are tiny now.

    The new plans law, if passed, would have no negative consequence for small group insurance and isn’t there where most small businesses are covered anyway? Not on Minnesota Care.

    • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 06/26/2017 - 12:30 pm.

      Because he is a Democrat

      He’s run for office as a Democrat.

      It would be nice for ‘Community Voices’ to be just that, from the community, rather than a sided pol.

    • Submitted by Dave Eischens on 06/26/2017 - 09:59 pm.

      Puzzle solved

      Let’s get past the left v. right media-induced divisions and talking points. Can we agree that healthy people are a better foundation for building successful communities? I agree that we strive to take of our own here up nord but private health insurance wasn’t doing that pre-ACA, at least not for everyone. Please recall the number of people for whom the ER was a primary doctor. And the struggles even insured Minnesotans fought to get private insurance to cover any number of medical costs? Talk about bureaucracy. Side note: Please realize that many small business owners are in the individual market, the ACA made insurance affordable for a lot of them, the point of the article.

      The current bills in the Senate and House may kick over a million of our MN elderly and disabled to the curb, it’ll hurt many small businesses. I call that negative consequences, and I don’t accept leaving any of them behind. It’s not who we are.

      End note: All kids deserve to be healthy, no? It’s about human decency and dignity. And our public support for all Minnesotan’s health is an investment in our state, our quality of life, and our success.

  7. Submitted by Kent Fralish on 06/26/2017 - 05:26 pm.

    New Plan

    The perfect health care plan has already been written and passed.
    Give us what congress has.

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