The Oregon Small Business Council took center stage this week as Jim Houser of Hawthorne Auto Clinic emceed a nationwide press call with Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) and four small business owners from other states who have experienced difficult increases in health insurance costs.

Our friends at the Main Street Alliance have put the audio from the call up online for you to hear.

Download a recording of the call here.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) unveiled the final version of the Senate health care bill this morning, titled the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act. The bill is estimated to cost $849 billion over ten years while providing coverage to 31 million uninsured Americans.

What’s Included?

ImageThe bill intends to provide health care coverage for 94 percent of Americans while meeting President Obama’s cost goals. The Senate leadership has produced a short summary of the bill that breaks down what’s included.

What Happens Right Away?Image

Many of the bill’s provisions, including the public option, won’t take effect for a few years. However, the Senate leadership has provided a look at what parts of the bill would be implemented immediately. Insurance market reforms, closing the Medicare Part D coverage gap and extending coverage for dependents will all be seen right away.

How is it Different from the House Bill?

With a different price tag, an “opt-out” provision for the public option and a lower estimate for how many people will be covered, the Senate bill can be distinguished from the House bill in a number of ways. The Associated Press has published a simple comparison piece to help you understand how the bills are similar and how they are different.

The bill, like the House version, is an enormous step forward in reforming our nation’s broken health care system. While not perfect, it represents a historic stepping stone to real health care reform that works for small businesses. As it moves to the floor this month and next, we need to redouble our efforts in contacting Senators Merkley and Wyden, writing letters to the editors of our local newspapers and asking our friends and colleagues to do the same to truly express the voice of small business in Oregon.

Last Saturday, as four of Oregon’s five congressional representatives voted in favor of groundbreaking health care reform, Representative Greg Walden stood alone in his opposition.

Around a month ago, however, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, on which Representative Walden sits, published a report on how health care reform would affect Representative Walden’s district. Included in the report are facts and figures on the impacts of health care reform on individuals and small businesses.

Read the report here.

OSBC member Jenelle Isaacson of Living Room Realtors in Portland published a letter to the editor of the Oregonian today about Senator Jeff Merkley’s provision for the Senate health care bill to require employers to provide reasonable break time and clean, private space for nursing mothers to express breast milk.

From the letter:

Like 72 percent of moms, I work full-time. I am writing in support of Sen. Jeff Merkley’s amendment to the final health care bill that provides for nursing mothers a reasonable break time to express milk at their place of employment (paid or unpaid) for one year after the birth of their child.

Read the rest of Jenelle’s terrific letter here.