Poll of Wisconsin small-business owners shows support for healthcare reforms

NFIB members back healthcare cost transparency and tax fairness for HSAs

Madison, Feb. 12, 2008 – The National Federation of Independent Business, the state’s leading small business organization, has released the results of a 2008 Member Ballot that indicates small business supports legislation that requires greater price disclosure for medical procedures. The survey also showed small business owners strongly back state tax law changes to allow tax-free contributions to health savings accounts.

In testimony before the Assembly Committee on Health and Health Care Reform, Bill G. Smith, NFIB/Wisconsin state director said, “Small-business owners and their employees are looking for the tools they need to get a handle on rising healthcare costs. Disclosing the actual cost of medical procedures and changing the Wisconsin tax code to give employees an incentive to save healthcare dollars are two important steps to changing our healthcare system.”

Support for transparency laws was overwhelming, with 85 percent of small employers in favor of requiring healthcare providers to disclose to patients the actual cost of medical procedures.

“Small-business owners understand that an important part of consumer-driven healthcare is the disclosure of prices charged by medical providers,” explained Smith. “Unlike virtually every other industry in America, healthcare is the only service provided without the consumer having any idea how much it costs. Small-business owners understand that has to change.”

Small employers are also demanding a change in the Wisconsin tax code so that deposits into health savings accounts receive the same tax treatment at the state level as they receive under federal tax law. 87 percent of small-business owners want Wisconsin law changed so that consumers are allowed to contribute pre-tax dollars into HSAs. Under federal law, contributions can be made pre-tax, earnings are tax-free, and distributions are tax-free when used to pay for qualified medical expenses.

“Providing incentives for employees to save money for medical expenses is key to reforming healthcare,” said Smith. “Other states have already taken this step—Wisconsin needs to play catch-up and make the change.”

Urging members of the committee to act promptly and favorably, Smith said both proposals were measures that would help employers and employees cope with the rising cost of healthcare.

“Arming patients with the information they need and giving them equal treatment under the tax code will turn them into more informed, cost-conscious consumers,” said Smith. “Both will give consumers more options when making important healthcare decisions.”

Each year, the National Federation of Independent Business/Wisconsin ballots its small-business members on the issues vital to their survival as entrepreneurs. NFIB has more than 11,000 members in Wisconsin.