Small businesses in Oregon need health care reform

by Nancie Koerber of Central Point. Koerber started her career in sales more than 30 years ago. She has owned and operated a successful insurance agency, real estate brokerage and currently runs Champions Realtime Training in Central Point.

I've just returned from a three day trip to Washington DC with 134 other small business owners from 25 states. We represented the Main Street Alliance—more locally the Oregon Small Business Council—and were there specifically for one reason: "To be heard" by our lawmakers on the issue of reforming our runaway health insurance industry.

We wanted the following:

1. Costs that are affordable (tax credits, subsidies for employees)
2. Effective cost controls that promote quality, lower administrative costs, and long term financial sustainability
3. Coverage we can count on (Insurance market reforms)
4. Choice and competition (national exchange, public option)
5. Commitment that's shared (shared responsibility, larger employers pay their fair share)

Small businesses in America now make up at least 60 percent of jobs. Every small business should be able to afford quality health coverage. We're willing to contribute, but we can't do it alone. We need real choice and real competition.

We started the day (Nov 2) with a press conference at the Senate, then moved to the White House for an event with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Small Business Administration head Karen Hill to have a question and answer session. In the afternoon, we met with our respective senators and representatives. The three of us from Oregon lobbied Reps. Schrader and Walden. Then we moved onto the Senate to spend some time with Sens. Wyden and Merkley.

The most important thing I learned from the trip is that Capitol Hill is like an anthill crawling with little worker ants. Most of them were very high paid lobbyists. They get their voice heard by constantly being there and offering campaign contributions and fact-impaired data to persuade our leaders. It is imperative that we continue to have our voices heard.

If you have called your congressperson 10 times on health insurance reform, it is not enough. Your stories and your voice matter and make a major difference. Keep calling, writing and showing up at events. Those who oppose our values need to hear from us the most. It is our America, so lets not let them forget it.

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today on reform.

Congressman Kurt Schrader
Phone: (202) 225-5711

Congressman Greg Walden
Phone: (202) 225-6730

Congressman David Wu
Phone: (202) 225-0855

Congressman Peter DeFazio
Phone: (202) 225-6416

Congressman Earl Blumenauer
Phone: (202) 225-4811

guest column

connect with blueoregon