A Polk County businesswoman has added her voice to a coalition of small business owners who are concerned the complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act could cause them to shut their businesses down.
Jenny Rogers, who owns Welcome Valley Village in Benton, was part of a telephone press conference Friday held by the Small Business Majority, a national business advocacy organization.
Lindsay Mueller, the organization's Midwest director, said small businesses nationwide have reaped substantial benefits from what is more commonly known as "Obamacare."
"A recent analysis found that one in five people who purchased coverage through the healthcare exchanges created by the ACA are small employers or solo entrepreneurs," Mueller said.
"Therefore, if the ACA is repealed countless small employers will lose their health benefits. Many businesses may even close because they will no longer be able to afford health insurance."
She provided statistics from testimony to the U.S. Congress by Richard Frank, then-Health and Human Services assistant secretary, showing total repeal of the act would "increase the burden for 10,700 small businesses and 85,000 Americans."
"It's absolutely remarkable how many tell us they will lose their businesses without the ACA because they either have a pre-existing condition or they won't be able to provide coverage without the ACA's tax credits," Mueller said.
Rogers said she and her husband have owned their business for 22 years.
"If the ACA is repealed without an equally effective plan to immediately take its place, we most likely will either be forced to sell our business or go without health insurance," Rogers said.
She said before the ACA, and with pre-existing health conditions, she could only qualify for "high risk" health insurance plans.
"In 2011, my high risk Blue Cross/Blue Shield policy had increased to $1,960 per month," Rogers said. "I was forced to drop my coverage because we could not afford the premium on our middle-income salary on top of what we were already paying for my husband's and son's standard policy."
She said in 2013, they were able to get coverage through the ACA marketplace. "When insurance companies could no longer (charge) higher premiums for pre-existing conditions.
"I implore our state's legislators to not repeal the ACA unless there is a comparable plan to immediately take its place," Rogers said. "We cannot go back to the dark days when insurance companies were able to price gouge people with medical conditions."
Rogers acknowledged there are "some problems that need to be fixed with the ACA."
"But, just throwing out the program without a suitable replacement will leave millions of Americans in the lurch," she said. "There are life-threatening consequences of repealing without replacing the ACA.
"Let's work together to fix what needs fixing and save what works for so many," she said.