Business owner: Health care proposal would devastate small business

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Despite assurance from the White House, much of the controversy over the President's health care plan centers around its potential impact on small businesses. One Gulfport business owner is worried the plan could hurt her business.

Pamela Stennis manages a clothing boutique called La Vita Bella, which offers health insurance through a private company. Stennis said she doesn't think she'd like being part of a health care system run by the government.

"It's not really impressive how the post office is being run," said Stennis. "They are already wanting to cut back on their days. They're massively in the red. I don't understand what makes them [the government] think that they can actually do a better job with healthcare, which is a lot more complicated than delivering letters."

The boutique's owner said she feels like the government is trying to force small businesses into a financial corner. Owner Teri Gandour said it's like the federal government is saying "if you don't agree to do what we want you to do, then we're going to penalize you with audits, extra taxes."

Gandour said, "They can call it whatever they want, but it's extra taxes. We already pay a lot of taxes."

Business owners would have to pay up to an eight percent wage tax on employees who opt out of the government plan, under a proposal put forth by the House of Representatives.

"I think it would be a financial hardship," said Gandour. "I think there are too many things they are requiring us to do, or would require us to do, to make sure that we agreed to that health form care package. I just think it's terribly unfair. We are suffering enough with the economic times like they are."

In its health care proposal, the United States House of Representatives defines a small business as one with a payroll of $400,000 or less. Meanwhile, the White House says reform would help small business by offering lower health care premiums.

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