10 Questions With National Federation of Independent Business CEO Dan Danner


On the one hand you can say, "Well, that sounds unreasonable," but you know, here's a case where we are mandating that young people in particular make an economic decision that's not in their best interest. If you're 25 years old, there's no question that economically what's best is that you buy a high-deductible minimum policy that mainly provides a well visit or something a year, and you can probably do that for 50 bucks a month. Not that you buy an $8,000 all-inclusive policy. An all-inclusive policy that might include hair transplants, and you know you don't need that. But the whole law was based on making you, if you're 25, buy all this that you don't need because they want your money. They have to have your money to make the rest of it work, so you have to buy whatever, 10 times more than you need because they know you're not going to use it all so they can shift that money to pay for other people. So it will be interesting to see, what does the government say is the line if this is constitutional, or is there no line?

How do you think Mitt Romney has handled the criticism of the mandates he oversaw in his health plan in Massachusetts?

I don't think he's handled it as well as it could be handled. In my opinion, there's an enormously strong case to be made that Massachusetts is so different than the rest of the country that what works in Massachusetts is not a prescription for the rest of the country. I mean, Massachusetts is a rich state. Massachusetts has a comparatively enormously low level of uninsured compared to a lot of other states. So it's different, and without ever getting to the merits of what they ultimately passed in Massachusetts, I think he can easily and correctly come back and say that 'what we proposed in Massachusetts is not what I would propose for the whole nation, and here's why. Because Massachusetts is different.' I don't think he's been clear or consistent on his responses, sort of answers a little different each time he's asked. I think he needs to be clear, concise and consistent.

There has to be something you like in Obamacare. What would you want to stay?

We have long supported no previously existing conditions. We've long supported the ways to get at portability so if you lose a job – and ways to do that when those are exchanges, or we supported some sort of ways for small businesses to work together and get some of the same economies to scale, things that a large corporation has. We'd like more tax transparency. For a larger corporation, the cost of the health care they provide is tax deductible. For you as an individual, it's not. We think we need to address that. They talked a little bit about some of that, I guess, if you purchase in an exchange, so we have been credibly consistent for years and years and years that we needed health care reform because small businesses and individuals that are buying in a small group market in our opinion had the worst of the worst. They paid more; they got less.

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