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[The Blue Dob Coalition]
DATE: September 14, 2000
For Immediate Release
CONTACT:  Alisha Prather
202-225-2031 voice 
202-225-5724 fax
Provides Fiscally Responsible Alternative to Increase Access for Small Businesses, Self-employed
Washington, DC —  The centrist Blue Dog Coalition today unveiled a small business health care access bill as potential middle ground on the health insurance access portion of the stalled Patients' Bill of Rights legislation.  The Small Business Health Insurance Expansion Act of 2000 would include tax incentives for small businesses and the self-employed to purchase health insurance, and it would encourage the creation and use of small business health insurance purchasing cooperatives.

In a letter to Sen. Don Nickles, chairman of the Bipartisan Consensus Patients' Bill of Rights conference committee, Blue Dog leaders urged him to consider the bill as an alternative to the insurance access portion of the bill under consideration.  The letter stated:  "We believe that the attached legislation represents a reasonable, fiscally responsible middle approach to expanding access to health insurance and providing assistance to small employers dealing with the growing costs of health insurance." (A copy of the letter is available on the Blue Dog's website.)

"Time and again, small business owners tell us that obtaining affordable health insurance coverage for their employees is one of their most pressing challenges," said Blue Dog Health and Education Task Force Co-Chair Dennis Moore (KS), and author of the bill.  "Congress needs to address these concerns.  It is the right thing to do for business and the right thing to do for millions of Americans who want and need health insurance."

The access provisions passed by the House in the Bipartisan Consensus Patients' Bill of Rights would cost $48 billion over 10 years without offsets, but it would do little to increase the number of insured individuals.  While the cost of the House-passed legislation has become one of the sticking points, the Blue Dog compromise would achieve the goal of expanding access to health insurance in a more cost-effective and fiscally responsible manner.  The Coalition estimates its impact to be $4.5 billion over 10 years.

"Just because there's an election around the corner doesn't mean we can afford to throw up our hands on the issue of access to health care for our constituents," said Blue Dog Co-Chairman Charlie Stenholm (TX).  "Blue Dogs have developed an affordable, common-sense way to expand health insurance to self-employed and small business employees that could be accomplished this year.  Congress should not put off these decisions, leaving thousands of Americans stranded without health insurance in the process."

The Blue Dog bill is also targeted to areas of greatest need.  Congressman Marion Berry (AR), Health and Education Task Force Co-Chair:  "Our bill is targeted directly to the problem area—businesses who want to provide health insurance, but who cannot because of the cost.  These tax incentives will go a long way toward making health insurance available to millions of Americans who are self-employed or employed by small businesses.  I strongly support this effort to give more Americans access to health insurance.  Representative Moore's plan is good for workers, good for business, and fiscally responsible."

The Blue Dogs are a consensus-building group of moderate-to-conservative lawmakers dedicated to finding common sense solutions on public policy issues.  Further information on the Coalition can be found on the Blue Dog web site at   


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