Monday, February 26, 2024

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Local Voices: Small businesses need affordable health care

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Submitted by Terri L. Winfree, President/CEO of Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce

health care
Terri Winfree, President/CEO of Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce. (Photo from chicagosouthlandchamber.com)

As President of the Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce, I talk to small businesses owners every day about the challenges they face — from rising inflation to an acute workforce shortage. Often topping the list of challenges, however, is the difficulty businesses face affording and providing quality health care and prescription drug coverage for their employees and their families.

That’s why it is so concerning that in the last two legislative sessions, lawmakers in Springfield considered bills that would have raised the overall cost of prescription drugs for Illinois employers, employees, patients and taxpayers. Last year, SB 2008 and HB 3630 would have increased prescription drug costs by more than $1 billion every year and would have added an $8.85 fee to most prescriptions filled at the pharmacy counter — costing a family with five prescriptions an additional $530 each year. In the session that just ended, HB 3787 and HB 3761 would have increased health care costs for Illinois families and businesses and restricted pharmacy benefits that keep medications affordable and accessible.

Affordability is an issue that impacts every corner of Illinois, and that patients and businesses alike are trying to balance right now. Our elected officials should take that challenge seriously. All across the state, data shows that Illinoisians agree that health care and prescription drugs should be affordable. In fact, by a margin of 68 percent to 18 percent, Illinois voters would rather have a more affordable prescription that they have to pick up at eligible pharmacy locations than a more expensive prescription they could pick up at any pharmacy. Thankfully, with more than 2,000 pharmacies in Illinois, oftentimes the most affordable prescription is right around the corner.

We are counting on lawmakers to reject any bill that restricts employers’ flexibility to choose the health care options that are best for their business and employees. Our state already asks small businesses to carry too big a load. Let’s not add the stress of affording health care to it.

Local Voices
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Local Voices is The Lansing Journal's version of “Letters to the Editor.” The opinions posted here are those of the writers, and posting them does not indicate endorsement by The Lansing Journal. We welcome input from fellow residents who have thoughtful things to say about topics that are important to our community. Submissions may be sent to [email protected] with “Voices” in the subject line.