NFIB petitions senators for ‘Small Business Health Plans’

The president of the National Federation of Independent Business, the nation’s largest small-business group, on Wednesday stood with the authors of a U.S. Senate bill to create “Small-Business Health Plans” and called for prompt Senate action to pass the legislation.

NFIB president and ceo Todd A, Stottlemyer joined bill cosponsors Sen. Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyo.), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont) at a press conference to urge Senate passage next week.

Stottlemyer presented the senators with 450,000 petitions from NFIB members and small-business owners calling on the Congress to enact the health plans aimed at small business. The petitions were later delivered to the offices of individual senators. The presentation occurred as the Senate prepares to take up S. 1955, “The Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act of 2006,” which passed the HELP Committee in March.

NFIB, said, SBHPs will level the playing field and give participating small businesses the same buying power as Fortune 500 companies and unions by allowing them to join together across state lines through trade and professional associations to purchase affordable health benefits.

“Access to affordable health care is the number one issue for small-business owners,” Stottlemyer said. “Starting next week, the Senate has a critical opportunity to make a real difference for small businesses, their employees and their families. Everyday, we hear from small-business owners struggling to provide health insurance for their employees, and they need help now. These petitions demonstrate just how important this vote is for our nation’s main street job creators.”

Recently, NFIB stepped up its campaign to enact SBHPs, running radio ads in key states in order to generate awareness of SBHPs and encourage people to contact their senators through www.SBHPAlert.com. Additionally, NFIB is using Web banner ads on major daily newspaper sites in key states, as well as ads on AOL small-business sites, small-business Blogs, and sites nationwide, national and local political Blogs and sites, and several Washington, D.C. news sites. Print ads are also running in Washington, D.C. newspapers.