July 12, 1999 -- Richard G. Gallo, owner of The Office Outlet in Indiana, Penn., today joined members of the United States Senate in addressing one of the most pressing public policy issues facing America today: health care reform.

Gallo spoke at a press conference in Washington, D.C., alongside members of the Senate Leadership and other small business owners. "I am a small businessman with seven employees and a family of four children. The cost of providing health insurance for my employees, say nothing of my own family, is too expensive for me, so we go without. Every day I pray to God that nothing will happen to any of us," Gallo said.

"I was blessed with the opportunity to live the American Dream when I started my business three years ago. Not being able to afford health insurance is the flip side of this dream: it's a nightmare. I do plan on purchasing health coverage for my family and employees as soon as I am able to afford it, but that will be more and more difficult if Congress enacts bills that keep hiking up the costs."

Gallo and other speakers addressed the repercussions that a "Patients' Bill of Rights" could have on those struggling to afford health care insurance.

"Senator Kennedy's so-called Patients' Bill of Rights bill does everything that would increase the number of uninsured Americans, and nothing that would make health care more affordable for small business," Gallo explained. "Small business owners and their employees will suffer if this bill becomes law. By jacking up the cost of insurance and allowing lawyers to sue them if they do offer coverage, it would leave many small employers like me with no prudent choice but to drop coverage for their employees or reconsider purchasing it if they don't already provide it."

Studies show that for every one percent increase in health care costs, 300,00 to 400,000 individuals lose their health insurance.

Senator Don Nickles (R-Okla.) sponsored the press conference to announce a bill that he and Senator Trent Lott (R-Miss.) have introduced, which would expand coverage for the uninsured and improves health care quality.

Gallo spoke as a representative of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation's largest small business advocacy group. A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 1943, NFIB represents the consensus views of its 600,000 members in Washington and all 50 state capitals. More information is available online at www.nfib.com.

CONTACT: McCall Cameron or Mary Crawford at 202.554.9000.