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IMSA Leader Speaks at Unveiling of House Health Care Bill

Date: 
10/29/2009

On Thursday, October 29, on the steps of the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic caucus unveiled the "Affordable Health Care for America Act."

This bill makes health care more affordable to people, it regulates insurance company bad practices, it is fairly financed and asks employers to pitch in their fair share, and it gives us the choice of a public health insurance option to keep insurance companies honest.

Among the lawmakers, dignitaries, activists and small business owners present, was Dan Sherry, a leader of the Illinois Main Street Alliance. Sherry, of Waukegan, is the owner of Kennedy’s Creative Awards, a second-generation family-owned business started in 1939.  After paying for insurance for years, his insurance company dropped him and his wife for missing a single payment and then refused to reinstate his coverage because of a pre-existing condition.  He has been unable to find affordable health insurance coverage for his seven full-time employees.

Dan Sherry's Remarks:

Madame Speaker, thank you for inviting me to participate in this event.  As you know, health care reform is absolutely essential for America’s small businesses. I own a family engraving business with two locations just outside of Chicago. I’ve never been able to afford health care for my employees. And even for my family, after paying into the system for many years without any claims, our insurer dropped us for missing a single premium payment. When we asked that our coverage be reinstated, I was told I couldn’t be covered because of a pre-existing condition. After looking at my options for how to protect my family in case I had a medical catastrophe, I concluded that my only alternative was to divorce my wife of 22 years, give her the business and give her the house so they wouldn’t be bankrupted. I was actually doing the research for how to do that a year ago.

The legislation being introduced today is critical for me and for small business owners all across America to be able to protect our businesses, our employees and our own families from the threat of crippling health care expenses. This bill will eliminate exclusions based on pre-existing conditions and other underwriting practices that make insurance unaffordable and inaccessible for small businesses.

By creating a health insurance exchange that includes the choice of a strong public health insurance option, this bill will provide access to affordable, comprehensive coverage.  Most small businesses will be exempt from any requirement to offer coverage, but the fact of the matter is we want to offer coverage – it makes good business sense and it’s just the right thing to do – and the tax incentives in this bill will help us get good coverage we can afford.

For my business to continue to grow and be competitive, it’s important for me to be able to offer health care benefits to my employees. They’re like family to me, and I have a responsibility to help make sure they have the health care they need.  That’s why I’m so proud to have the opportunity to stand here today and express my strong support for this landmark legislation…and my gratitude to you, Madame Speaker, and your colleagues for introducing this bill.  America’s small businesses need Congress to pass this legislation to make health care work for us – that’s what we need now.