Springfield, MO

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Small business advocate seeks level playing field

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

Scott George wants fair play for small business.

He wants small businesses to have the same access to what they need to grow and thrive in today's marketplace that large businesses do such as full deductibility of health insurance.

"The reality is that small businesses have been hammered by double-digit increases in the cost of providing health care in the past few years. I'm hearing anywhere from 15 to 47 percent increases year over year," George said.

George is a small business owner himself and is general manager of Mid America Dental, Hearing and Vision.

He is also a member of the Regional Regulatory Fairness Board for Region VII, the southwest Missouri region, and he closely watches the effect of government regulations on small business.

"This isn't just southwest Missouri. It's happening all over. For my part, I've had a 33 percent increase this year and a 22 percent last year. I've heard of some 100 percent increases over a two-year period," George said.

He has a few recommendations for how small business can have more affordable health care benefits for employees.

George said the Missouri legislature can help about 67,000 small businesses statewide by allowing those businesses to fully deduct the cost of health care insurance.

"Right now, everybody's frustrated and nobody knows what to do. One thing that can help would be 100 percent deductibility," George said.

A law that would create pools in which small businesses could participate and get better buying power for health insurance would also help, he added.

"The reality is that small businesses with eight employees and 15 lives can't compete with huge businesses with 3,000 employees and 8,000 lives. ... Pooling is the right way to go," George said.

George said it might be beneficial to break the tie between employment and health insurance.

"That way everyone could get the insurance they choose. Do you get your auto insurance through your employer? No.

"It could be beneficial for everyone if we break that tie between health insurance and employment," George said.

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