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2008-06-12 15:21:13

REALTORS® Push for Health Care Reform

The National Assn. of REALTORS® joined a bipartisan group of members of Congress today as the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation designed to make insurance more available and affordable for the 47 million employees of the nation’s 5.8 million small businesses and more than 14 million self-employed individuals. In announcing its support for the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), NAR reiterated the importance of reforming the U.S. health care market for small businesses and independent contractors.

In a recently conducted 2008 NAR Health Insurance Coverage survey, 82% of REALTORS® believed the current health care system is not meeting the needs of most Americans, and nine out of 10 REALTORS® thought that the U.S. health care system should be reformed. Nearly a quarter of NAR’s 1.2 million members do not have health care insurance, and for most REALTORS® without insurance, the reason is cost.

“More than half of all REALTORS® report that the current health care system is not meeting their needs or those of their family,” said NAR Treasurer James L. Helsel, Jr., who spoke at today’s press conference. “NAR joins with these members of Congress today because this issue is substantial and meaningful, and it affects REALTORS® and other small business employees and independent contractors all across our country every day.”

As proposed, SHOP would offer tax incentives to encourage states to reform small group insurance markets and to make health insurance premiums more affordable for small businesses and the self-employed. It would also develop a nationwide insurance small-business purchasing pool that would still be subject to state insurance regulation to protect those who choose to participate. The House bill is a companion to the SHOP legislation introduced by the Senate in April.

“We believe that the legislation introduced today is a big step forward in addressing the challenges facing our members, and we thank Congressmen Ron Kind, D-Wisc.; Phil English, R-Penn.; John Barrow, D-Ga.; C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla. and other distinguished members for their leadership,” Helsel said. “We appreciate that Congress recognizes that small businesses need help navigating health insurance markets and have created a role for trade associations to help guide their self-employed and small business members through the process.”

NAR supports the House-introduced SHOP concept and believes that the proposed program will offer more choices and lower costs for the self-employed and small businesses.

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