Health Care Dominates IFA Public Affairs Conference

September 16th, 2009

On September 15 I attended the International Franchise Association’s 10th Annual Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., and was privileged to be selected as a team captain for the group of IFA members from Maryland who attended meetings at the offices of our U.S. Senators and Representatives.  I was pleased to be able to arrange for one of Maryland’s Senators, Benjamin L. Cardin, to participate in our meeting for about 25 minutes.  Senator Cardin provided us with tremendous insight into the ongoing Congressional debate on health insurance reform and his personal views on the subject, which I interpreted to be supportive of a more moderate reform along the lines supported by Senator Baucus. 

We also discussed the continuing challenge for new franchisees to obtain start-up loans, despite efforts to make the SBA loan guarantee more accessible.  While Senator Cardin could not make any commitments as to what Congress can do to solve the problem, he is holding a program in October with bankers and small business people to try to keep the spotlight on the problem and push for improvement.

Before we went to Capitol Hill we heard from several speakers, including members of Congress and the keynote, commentator George Will.  The health insurance reform debate dominated both the remarks of the speakers and the question and answer portion, and the overwhelming tone of comments was in favor of free market solutions and against aggressive federal intervention. 

My personal view on the topic is that legislation should be passed to require all Americans to purchase some sort of health insurance with relatively low deductibles and co-pays.  However, for the health insurance market to work well for small businesses and individuals, health insurance exchanges and cooperatives need to be able to exist beyond state lines.  The Baucus legislation needs to be changed to either set up a commission to establish a pre-emptive system of minimum benefit mandates and exclusions, or to establish multi-state regions for insurance cooperatives that would establish pre-emptive REGIONAL minimum benefit mandates and exclusions.   For states with less than 10 million people this is necessar to gather sufficient buying power to force competition in premiums. 

 What are your thoughts?

David L. Cahn

Managing Member, Franchise & Business Law Group

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