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Opinion: Healthcare Costs Are Hurting Businesses, And That Must Be Changed

The one-two punch of rising healthcare costs and historic inflation are threatening to overwhelm the estimated half a million small businesses that call Missouri home and are the lifeblood of so many communities across our state. That’s why small business owners are looking to lawmakers in Jefferson City to pass legislation aimed at addressing our rising healthcare costs.

Whether from consolidation, lack of price transparency, or a general anticompetitive behavior, spending on hospitals has easily surpassed any other component of our larger healthcare dollar. But thankfully, our elected officials have finally caught on.

Last session, a bill was introduced here in Missouri that would’ve prevented hospitals from surprising consumers and health plans, which happens when hospitals reclassify a doctor’s office that they own as a hospital setting to charge more money and occurs largely because of unchecked hospital consolidation.

This issue of “dishonest billing” has slowly gained momentum in state legislatures all over the country and in Washington, DC, where multiple bills targeting this billing have been introduced, including in the powerful Ways & Means Committee, chaired by Missouri’s own Jason Smith.

Small business owners know firsthand the impact that rising healthcare costs have on their employees and their families, which is why the issue has become the #1 concern for so many of us. Since 2013, the cost of employer-provided coverage has increased 47%, making it difficult for small employers to attract and retain talent, not to mention reinvest in their communities by growing their businesses.

Solutions to lower healthcare costs are straightforward – we must promote hospital competition, enforce price transparency, rein in hospital price markups, and ensure honest billing practices. By taking these necessary steps, Missouri’s small business community would be better positioned to help our state weather these challenging economic times and place our state on more secure financial footing.

As a small business myself, I encourage Missouri lawmakers, both, in DC and closer to home in Jefferson City, to support legislation aimed at eliminating dishonest billing and bringing an end to hospitals’ anticompetitive behavior. Failure to act only fails Missouri’s small businesses and the families and communities they support.