Reimagining Health Care

By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate

Affordability, predictability, and flexibility were three themes reiterated at the Feb. 7 hearing held by the House Committee on Small Business entitled “Reimagining the Health Care Marketplace for America’s Small Business.” It was held for the purpose of taking a look at the current marketplace and its recent difficulties, and to explore options to improve access, affordability, and consistency.

While no clear legislative path has yet been paved, many facts, figures, and ideas were floated around regarding how to ensure that small business is not an afterthought in the revamping of the healthcare system. Solutions presented and discussed at the hearing included tax credits for small business, across state line coverage, and Health Savings Accounts and Health Reimbursement Arrangements.

Here is more about the items discussed.

  • Tax credits for the self-employed: As the Tax Code currently stands, self-employed individuals are restricted from deducting their health insurance premiums. Small, self-employed business owners end up paying more for health insurance because their premiums are not treated the same for taxes as other businesses.

Leveling the playing field by giving these small businesses tax credits would improve affordability for small business owners, as well as expand the pool of coverage, according to Keith Hall of the National Association of the Self-Employed (NASE).

  • Across state line coverage: The number of insurers participating in the marketplace varies widely from state to state, as do the number of coverage plans. The lack of competition among insurers in the current exchanges decreases pressure to keep costs down.

Mr. Hall of the NASE believes that allowing for the sale of health insurance across state lines will boost competition, driving costs down. In order for this to happen, Congress will have to enact a health plan that will modify the existing law that inhibits the sale of health insurance across state lines.

  • Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs): A provision of a law signed into Congress last session allows small employers with fewer than 50 full-time employees that do not offer a group health plan to fund employee HRAs to pay for qualified out-of-pocket medical expenses and for non-group plan health insurance premiums, including plans purchased on the public health care exchanges.

Allowing small businesses to offer a bare bones plan and HSAs would allow individuals to decide the best choice for themselves and their families, according to Tom Secor of Durable Corporation, who testified on behalf of the National Small Business Association (NSBA).

This hearing was the first of a continuing series that will take place on the discussion of healthcare repeal and replacement. To read full written testimony from each witness here.

10 Things You Should Know From the Linda McMahon Hearing

By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate

On Jan. 24, the Senate Small Business Committee held a hearing on the confirmation of Linda McMahon (former WWE CEO), to become Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA). Here are the 10 things you should know about her hearing:

  1. SBA is still part of the cabinet—President Obama elevated the position of SBA Administrator to cabinet level. President Trump is sticking with that change.
  2. Existing programs are safe…for now—When questioned by numerous senators on specific program commitments, McMahon repeatedly said that if the program is working then it should be continued.
  3. She will go to bat for small business in the executive branch—McMahon sees herself as the small business advocate within the executive branch, and will go to other agencies and make sure that more federal contracting opportunities are provided to small businesses.
  4. She will work to expand the 5% contracting goal for women—Senator Duckworth (IL), asked about the 5% goal, and McMahon expressed support for women entrepreneurs, broadly, “I have been very forthcoming in wanting women entrepreneurship to grow. And I will continue to support that, it is very near and dear to my heart.”
  5. She has a history working with Veterans—According to McMahon, WWE was always concerned about veterans and how to help create jobs for them. Senator Cardin (MD) discussed the Veterans Institute for Procurement (VIP) program and noted its impact and high performance.
  6. Look for an emphasis on mentoring—Given McMahon’s background in business mentoring, she may focus on programs that incorporate mentorship. As co-founder of Women’s Leadership LIVE, McMahon’s organization educates entrepreneurs about all facets of starting and expanding their business.
  7. She wants to help free small businesses from burdensome regulations—While many senators asked questions about regulatory burdens on small businesses, Senator Ernst brought up the PROVE It Act—legislation passed out of committee last session that empowers the SBA Office of Advocacy to require agencies to analyze rules for their small business impact.
  8. Speaking of advocacy—McMahon expressed support for expanding the independent SBA Office of Advocacy to ensure that the voice of small business is heard on federal regulations.
  9. She wants small businesses to participate in anticipated Infrastructure projects—When asked about promoting fair opportunities for small businesses to compete for work in the highly anticipated infrastructure plan, McMahon stated that small business participation was a given.
  10. Streamlining cumbersome federal contracting—McMahon expressed support for streamlining the alphabet soup of federal websites and databases like SAM and FBO.

This was a conciliatory confirmation hearing. Given the contentious nature of other confirmation hearings, it was unknown what tone McMahon’s hearing would take. But the hearing went well. Senators were polite and McMahon was responsive to concerns. With so much partisanship in Washington, it was positive to see McMahon’s interest in working with the committee—both sides.

Senate Begins Process to Repeal Obamacare

By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate

The 115th Congress is already at work and taking votes that impact women business owners. The Senate voted 51 to 48 early Thursday to approve a budget resolution that instructs Congressional committees to begin work on legislation repealing major portions of the Affordable Care Act.

Senator Rand Paul was the lone Republican “no” vote and Republicans defeated Democratic amendments defending popular portions of the ACA, including expanded Medicaid and Medicare and allowing kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26.

The House is expected to take up the resolution this week, though debate may extend into the weekend.

WIPP will work with Congress to ensure that whatever changes are implemented address accessibility and affordability—issues that have plagued the small business market.

WIPP will stay on top of legislative developments like this in 2017 to make sure you have the latest information you need.

Regulatory Race to the Finish

By Debbie Kobrin, WIPP Government Relations

173414-425x283-government_regulationsWith the party conventions right around the corner, and a few months to a new President, you might think the current administration would be slowing down. But things are moving in the opposite direction. The Administration is churning out plenty of new contracting rules, and shows no signs of stopping anytime.

In June, SBA finalized a new subcontracting rule which will help WOSBs with subcontracting requirements, by easing the “50 percent rule” to allow a WOSB to do less than 50 percent of the work on a contract, as long as the WOSB subcontracts to other WOSBs. The rule also shifts the limitations on subcontracting from requiring a prime to perform at least 50 percent of the labor on the contract, to requiring a prime perform at least 50 percent of the dollar amount of the contract. The rule also contains changes to subcontracting plans, roles for Procurement Center Representatives (PCR), Joint Ventures and more.

Also last month,  the GSA finalized a new regulation requiring contractors to report transaction or task order level data on goods and services to GSA. Under the transactional data rule, businesses are required to tell GSA what federal agencies purchase through GSA. This rule applies to GSA contracts including the Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) and Government-wide Acquisition Contracts (GWAC).

Last week, the FAR Council finalized a rule strengthening subcontracting regulations by finalizing the “ list us, use us” requiring for prime contractors to make a good faith effort to utilize small subcontractors to the same degree as listed in the bid or proposal. WIPP has supported this change for a number of years, and testified on its value to women business owners. The rule also requires prime contractors to assign NAICS codes to subcontracts, and restricts prime contractors from prohibiting a subcontractor from discussing payment issues with the contracting officer.

In addition to what we have seen over the past several months, SBA is expected to release a new Mentor-Protégé Program for all-small-businesses any day now. The SBA is also expected to work on rules associated with lower-tier subcontracting credit, WOSB certification, and the WBC program.

The FAR Council continues to work through its back-log and plans to release new rules that include creating a government-wide definition for consolidation and bundling, providing subcontractors with additional payment protections, and implementing the Department of Labor Fair Pay, Safe Workplaces Executive Order.

As we enter the home stretch of the Obama Administration, there is a clear impetus to do as much as possible over the next several months. As new information about rules becomes available, WIPP is committed to keeping you informed.

 Let us know what you think about Regulations by taking We Decide 2016 Quick Poll.

Are Regulations Discouraging Entrepreneurship?

By: Jake Clabaugh, WIPP Government Relations

Is the federal regulatory process stacked against entrepreneurs? The Joint Economic Committee sought to answer this question during a hearing entitled “Encouraging Entrepreneurship: Building Business, Not Bureaucracy.” The Committee’s Vice-Chair, Pat Tiberi (R-OH) opened the hearing with this direct question to witnesses: Is the thicket of government bureaucracy strangling private initiative?

Before taking on the Vice-Chair’s question, the witnesses began by framing the landscape. Entrepreneurship – the birth of new firms – has been trending downward since President Jimmy Carter’s Administration in the 1970’s. Dr. Tim Kane, a Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, highlighted the decline in the number of startup firms from 16% of total firms in the U.S. in 1977 to just 8% today.

Despite the decline in overall start-ups, National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) Chair Carla Harris lauded the growth in women-owned businesses. Since 2002, the number of women-owned firms has leaped from 6.5 million to 10 million. Women are creating businesses at 2 -1/2 times the national average. The progress made by women business owners provided a bright spot in otherwise gloomy testimony on the outlook for entrepreneurs.

When the witnesses were asked what regulations were causing the most headaches, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was the most commonly cited culprit. Specifically, the ACA defines a full-time employee as an individual working thirty hours a week instead of the traditional forty. This definition determines whether a business is exempt from the employer mandate. The witnesses echoed the experiences of many WIPP members who have found the thirty-hour workweek definition detrimental.

To tackle this and other regulatory challenges, WIPP partnered with the National Association of Manufacturers, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council and International Franchise Association to launch Rethink Red Tape.  As part of this initiative, WIPP will be calling on policymakers to produce better, fairer rules. In the opinion of the Joint Economic Committee and WIPP Members alike, regulatory reform will be a win for entrepreneurship.

EVENT: The Primary Process & What to Expect at the Upcoming Conventions

Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) invites you to a special, complimentary WE Decide 2016 event for women in business in Washington D.C. You’ve heard the buzzwords – “delegates”, “super delegates”, “brokered or contested convention”, now join us to learn more about how primaries work and get a preview of what to expect at the upcoming Democratic and Republican Conventions in July.

Join us on Tuesday, May 3rd from 3:00pm – 4:30pm in Washington, D.C. to hear from Elaine Kamarck, Founding Director of the Center for Effective Public Management and Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution.

kamarck_elaine_1x1Elaine is a public sector scholar with wide experience in government, academia and politics. She is an expert on government innovation and reform in the United States, OECD countries and developing countries. In addition, she also focuses her research on the presidential nomination system and American politics and has worked in many American presidential campaigns.

Elaine is the author of “Primary Politics: Everything You Need to Know about How America Nominates Its Presidential Candidates.” She will be speaking with women in business on what to expect at the upcoming party conventions and how the delegate process works.

REGISTER HERE FOR THIS FREE EVENT!

This is an important election year, and through WE Decide 2016, you have the opportunity to educate the candidates, the media and voters on issues impacting women business owners, like you.

Join Me and Other Women Entrepreneurs this Election Season! #WEDecide2016

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Dear WIPP Members and Friends,   

BK headshotWomen business owners are 10 million strong. When we engage in the political process with a positive message there is no stopping us!

WE Decide 2016 is mobilizing thousands of women in business to raise their voice and share their message this election season.  It is a wonderful opportunity to learn and to share our views on issues important to us with the candidates and the media.

So please, sign up today and encourage your friends and employees to join you. To immediately get involved you can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and sign up for WE Decide 2016 online. Below are the links to make an immediate impact –and it will only take 5 minutes of your time!

Sign up for WE Decide 2016.

Like WE Decide 2016 on Facebook.

Follow WE Decide 2016 on Twitter.

We also encourage you to spread the word in your networks, click here to view the most recent weekly partner and supporter newsletter. This newsletter provides links to logos, pictures for social media, sample social media, the topic for the weekly #WEDecideChat on Twitter, content for your website, and the most recent poll or survey. If you would like to sign your organization up as a supporter, please click here or email Lynn Bunim at lbunim@wipp.org.

Thank you again for your support – we couldn’t do all we do without you!

Sincerely,

BK single

Barbara Kasoff
WIPP President Emeritus
bkasoff@wipp.org

Join WIPP’s Chief Advocate Ann Sullivan for an Insider’s Look at the Presidential Candidates

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Will a new President change how Washington works?  Join me Thursday for an insider’s look at the Presidential candidates and their ability to work with a new Congress and the business community.  Not only will this year’s election decide the Presidency, but control of the Senate is also in play.
Join me on March 24th at 2PM for an analysis of the upcoming elections and how you as women business owners can weigh in on issues that matter most to your business and the future through WE Decide 2016.
And don’t forget to join We Decide 2016 before the webinar – together, we will make a difference.
See you on Thursday!
Ann Sullivan
Chief Advocate for Women Impacting Public Policy
Click here to join WE Decide2016.
Click here to register for Thursday’s webinar.

A Causal Effect: Business Innovation and Political Activism

By Annie Wilson, Intern

Earlier this year, researchers from the Queensland University of Technology and HEC, a graduate school for business in Paris, published their article “Political activism and firm innovation.” In their article, Alexei Ovtchinnikov, Syed Reza and Yanhui Wu delved into a myriad of research and data, but their findings, stated simply, were that political activism positively affects firm innovation. The paper’s overarching findings state that increased involvement in political activity reduces political uncertainty, which fosters innovation, and politically active firms successfully time future legislation to set their innovation goals, which typically yields more innovative success. We find that WIPP members who understand policy and its impact on their business growth, and who participate in calls for action, are those that are among the most successful. activism1

The paper examines two distinct hypotheses to explain the relationship:

  1. Political activism increases the role of political intelligence with respects to supplying market-moving information. Because innovation is costly and highly uncertain, firms with no access to political information innovate less to reduce their systematic risk. If a firm has a more confident assessment of the future of the market they are entering into, they will have increased confidence in their newfound innovation.
  2. Political activism increases opportunity and accessibility to government procurement. The study theorizes that politically active firms will also innovate more if the firm has a deeper understanding of the benefits of federal contracting. This will open up more opportunities for firms that can yield more success with projects that requires access to government permits, licenses and other approvals.

In the study’s findings, researchers found overwhelming data to support that firm innovation is strongly positively related to political activism and that these findings are consistent with these two hypotheses.

These findings hold importance for three reasons.

  1. It gives a more holistic understanding of how political activism can positively affect firms with a newfound respect to both fiscal and innovation investment.
  2. It explains that political activism is an important determinant of innovation.
  3. It demonstrates how political intelligence may be utilized for not only external investment but internal investment decisions.

When looking at your company’s innovation process, do these findings run parallel? Do you think your company would benefit from increased advocacy efforts during your innovative process? Comment below.

To read the full article, click here.

#TheNew10

TheNew10

By Annie Wilson, Intern

When Rosie Rios assumed office in 2009 as the 43rd Treasurer of the United States she was confronted with a difficult, existing reality: the under-representation of women in the finance industry. For Rios, a clear solution to providing more opportunities for women was to create a more visible and widely circulated message: that women have a place in the finance sector.

Her proposal: put a woman on the U.S. currency.

Last month this dream finally became a reality for Rios as the Treasury Department announced that a woman of historical significance will be featured on the next $10 note by 2020, a date that coincides with the 100th anniversary for voting rights for women. For Rios this is a huge step forward in bridging the gender gap.

In an effort to pick the best candidate for the bill, the Treasury Department is opening their selection process to the public. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew believes that the public’s input is an important and valuable part of the bill’s design process and encourages public dialogue as to how the $10 note can display the best female representation. Lew encourages the public to express their ideas via the #TheNew10 on social medias or through their website directly.

So far, the leading contenders for the selected female figurehead are Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt and Rosa Parks. Rios has yet to express who her top pick is, but when asked to name a political role model of hers she was quick to name Shirley Chisholm, the first African American Congresswomen.

#TheNew10 is one of many initiatives started by Rios in an attempt to integrate more women into the finance world. In 2010, she pushed for the first Women in Finance Symposium, which is now an annual event. She was also an active voice in redecorating a stretch of the Treasury Department to be a “Gallery of Women in Treasury,” intended to highlight female contributions at the Treasury.

For more information on the campaign, click here.

To read more about Rosie Rios’ advocacy for the campaign, click here.