National Restaurant Association Commends Senate Finance Committee for Focus on Small Business Health Care

New Association research shows increased premiums are preventing many restaurant operators from offering health insurance

(Washington, DC) – The National Restaurant Association today commended the Senate Finance Committee for holding a hearing to discuss small business health insurance. The hearing, being held today on Capitol Hill entitled “Building a Gateway to Coverage,” will focus on a variety of issues including: employer-based coverage, pooling across state lines, refundable tax credits, sole proprietors, and general health coverage.

“Health care costs continue to be the key barrier for restaurant owners wishing to provide or expand coverage,” said Dawn Sweeney, Association President and Chief Executive Officer. “Five years ago, seven in 10 American businesses offered their employees health insurance. Today, it’s six in 10. Small businesses often have the most difficulty, yet six in 10 uninsured employees work for small businesses. We support the goal of increasing access to health care for the uninsured and we appreciate the Committee’s willingness to consider ways to help smaller employers. We have been supportive of many of the issues being addressed during today’s hearing, and we are anxious to work with the committee toward solutions addressing affordability and accessibility.”

According to National Restaurant Association research, seventy-six percent of restaurant operators said their annual health insurance costs have increased in the past two years.  Among restaurant operators who reported an increase in costs, the median increase during the past two years was 14 percent each year. Of the operators that do not offer a group health insurance plan for their hourly employees, the most common reason cited was that premiums are too high.

The National Restaurant Association has been a leading voice in the effort to increase access to health insurance for small businesses and their employees. “We are supportive of voluntary, multi-state health-insurance purchasing pools and increased tax incentives for employers and employees,” added Sweeney. “Employer-based health care is extremely important to our industry and to our country, and it is critical to members who rely on health care benefits as a key recruitment and retention tool.”