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Washington Watch - May 13, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Obama, Top Health Care Organizations Talk Reform
A group of leading health care organizations representing hospitals, private insurers, the medical-device industry, health care union workers and the pharmaceutical industry met with President Obama on Monday to discuss a plan to cut the growth rate of health care costs by 1.5 percent per year over 10 years. The goal has been a vision of Obama’s since the campaign trail and is expected to save American families about $2,500 annually.

The groups in attendance were the Advanced Medical Technology Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and the Service Employees International Union.

In a joint letter to the president, the groups pledged to continue collaborative efforts between the public and private health sectors in order to cut costs. Though more detailed proposals are expected in coming weeks, the groups outlined their plans to reduce expenditures by:
  • Implementing proposals in all sectors of the health care system, focusing on administrative simplification, standardization, and transparency that supports effective markets;
  • Reducing over-use and under-use of health care by aligning quality and efficiency incentives among providers across the continuum of care so that physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers are encouraged and enabled to work together towards the highest standards of quality and efficiency;
  • Encouraging coordinated care, both in the public and private sectors, and adherence to evidence-based best practices and therapies that reduce hospitalization, manage chronic disease more efficiently and effectively, and implement proven clinical prevention strategies; and,
  • Reducing the cost of doing business by addressing cost drivers in each sector and through common sense improvements in care delivery models, health information technology, workforce deployment and development, and regulatory reforms.
“The groups who are here today represent different constituencies with different sets of interests. They've not always seen eye to eye with each other or with our government on what needs to be done to reform health care in this country,” President Obama acknowledged. “In fact, some of these groups were among the strongest critics of past plans for comprehensive reform.”

Health groups’ letter to President Obama

Fact sheet on health reform efforts.


Dear Congress, Please Take It Easy On The Small-Business Owner

A self-employed taxpayer, who files the Form 1040 with corresponding Schedule C, will spend nearly 60 hours and $440 dollars to complete the return, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). To help remedy that, the NASE spoke with members of Congress about how small businesses would benefit from a reduction in the complexity and amount of their tax paperwork.

Micro-businesses are often bogged down with complexity of the tax code and tax forms. The NASE's National Tax Advisor Keith Hall named four steps the federal government could take to help: 1) the Internal Revenue Service's adoption of more simplified, "plain English" forms and documentation; 2) the establishment of a standard home office deduction; 3) clarification of the definition of an independent contractor; and 4) allowing sole proprietors to deduct their health insurance premiums in the same manner as larger corporations.

"The IRS's Office of Burden Reduction has implemented many positive changes by making IRS.gov more accessible to business owners and information much easier to obtain," Hall said. "We would like to keep that momentum going by asking Congress to approve current legislation that would simplify the tax code. Two examples would be the creation of a $1,500 standard home office deduction, and allowing small businesses to deduct the cost of their health insurance premiums as a business expense."

See highlights of Keith Hall's testimony on YouTube.


NASE Members Support Tax Simplification
According to a recent survey by the NASE of 400 micro-businesses, owners are feeling taxed by their tax preparation. More than half (55.3 percent) of the small business owners surveyed indicated that they use a tax practitioner to prepare their taxes, while over a quarter (28 percent) use tax preparation software on their computer.

Almost 60 percent of respondents indicated that they spend up to 10 hours preparing their taxes, with 27 percent indicating that they spend between 1 and 5 hours, and 15.3 percent of respondents spending between 5 and 7 hours and between 8 and 10 hours, respectively.

Thirty-five percent of micro-business owners feel that tax forms are the most burdensome aspect of the federal tax code, and eighty-four percent of respondents favor reforming the current tax system by minimizing tax forms and creating easier instructions.


Share Your Micro-Business Expertise!
The NASE helps bridge the gap between small-business owners and the media. When you share your personal experiences, you can help bring about positive change for the self-employed and micro-business owners. Plus, you and your business can receive free publicity!

Become a media contact by clicking here.

Lawmakers and media outlets across the country rely on and regularly cite the NASE as a source of small and micro-business expertise. Help the NASE make sure the micro-business perspective is heard by taking this month’s poll.

Click here to log-in and participate

Washington Watch Online
Visit NASE Advocacy to view archived editions of Washington Watch. While you’re there, read the latest updates from the Washington, D.C. office, write your Congressperson, and find out how you can join the fight for micro-business.