Editor’s note: This commentary is by David Nunnikhoven, owner of Grandma Miller’s Pies and Pastries in Londonderry, and member of Main Street Alliance of Vermont Leadership Committee.
I started my small business in Vermont because I wanted to be able to share my grandma’s pastry recipes with my community. There is no way I would have been able to do this without access to health coverage for myself and my children through Vermont’s expanded Medicaid program and Dr. Dynasaur. Thanks to these public health programs, I can operate my small business on its modest bottom line, and I don’t have to worry about how I will manage to keep myself healthy on top of keeping my business running and taking care of my staff.
But now Republicans in the Senate are rushing through a plan behind closed doors that would take health care away from 23 million people, including many of the four million newly insured small business owners, employees, and self-employed individuals. Republican senators are saying that their bill is different than the House’s plan, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), but really it does the same things.
Instead of improving access and lowering costs, the GOP plan puts health care out of reach for working families across Vermont and the United States and jeopardizes protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The plan also slashes Medicaid by $834 billion, threatening the health care of 74 million Americans – including myself – who rely on Medicaid every day, and creating huge deficits in state budgets.
Any economist will tell you that when people have more money in their pockets, they can spend more at local businesses.
Republicans in Congress are doing all of this in order to give $664 billion in tax cuts to the very wealthy and big corporations while forcing small business owners back to a time when many of us couldn’t afford coverage at all. But the plan won’t just affect individuals – it will also have serious negative impacts on our state economy.
The Republican plan will require Vermonters to pay even more out of pocket for sub-par care. Any economist will tell you that when people have more money in their pockets, they can spend more at local businesses. I can attest to this as a small business owner. It seems like only recently have Vermonters, my neighbors and customers, started to shop for more inessential items – like pies and pastries – at the level they once did before the recession. We cannot allow Trump and his allies to hold us back now.
Our leaders should be building on what works, not sabotaging progress for everyday Americans to score political points. Senate Republicans have the opportunity to take a stand for small businesses, their employees and customers by rejecting the health care plan that President Trump and House Republicans have proposed.
I am not interested in going backward.