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WASHINGTON'S SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS OPPOSE GOVERNOR'S MANDATED HEALTH INSURANCE PROPOSAL

 WASHINGTON'S SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS OPPOSE GOVERNOR'S
 MANDATED HEALTH INSURANCE PROPOSAL
 OLYMPIA, Wash., Dec. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The state's largest small business organization today criticized Gov. Booth Gardner's mandated health insurance proposal as a "counter productive burden" on small business and vowed to oppose the measure during the 1992 legislative session.
 "The fact is that small business owners who can afford health insurance for their employees usually provide it, and most who don't simply cannot afford it," said Barry Stephenson, regional director of state government relations for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). "Mandated health insurance may seem like an easy answer to health care woes, but not even Gov. Booth can wave a magic wand and change that reality."
 Stephenson added that the results of a 1989 survey of NFIB/Washington's 20,000 members found that 64 percent of the respondents already provided health care coverage for full-time employees, and 36 percent didn't. A subsequent national NFIB study revealed that among members who do not offer insurance, the median income is only $20,000 a year. The NFIB/Washington survey found that 83 percent of its members oppose mandated health care and 61 percent are against "pay or play" plans in particular.
 The governor's proposal, a "pay or play" plan, would require all businesses to provide health insurance for employees or pay a special tax of $138 a month per coverage through the State Health Plan. The tax would be phased in over four years.
 The plan, revealed on Tuesday, also would impose a 10 percent increase in alcohol and tobacco taxes to raise $23 million annually to help fund the expanded State Health Plan and a special five-member commission that would be established to oversee the new program.
 "The reality is that we will end up with a new group of people who are both uninsured and unemployed as marginal small businesses that cannot afford the program are forced to close their doors to layoff employees and return to sole proprietorships," Stephenson said. "At a time when the economy is reeling and new job creation is critical to our economic recovery, to add significant new operating costs is a counter productive burden on small business we will all regret."
 NFIB, with more than 500,000 members nationwide and offices in all 50 states, is the largest small business advocacy group in the country.
 -0- 12/18/91
 /CONTACT: Alan Maltun of Braun Ketchum PR, 213-385-3481, or Barry Stephenson of the National Federation of Independent Business, 303-534-1633/ CO: National Federation of Independent Business ST: Washington IN: SU:


DM-SE -- LA019 -- 3654 12/18/91 19:20 EST
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Date:Dec 18, 1991
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