Assembly Bill Could
Raise Health Care Costs
Small business owners can learn how to gain access to millions of dollars in government procurement contracts at this year’s Operation Opportunity Trade Fair.
The annual trade fair, which will help small businesses locate and make contact with procurement agents, will be held June 13.
“Each year we join forces to present this opportunity to San Diego’s small businesses,” said George Chandler, San Diego district director for the U.S. Small Business Administration, one of the sponsoring agencies. “Invaluable connections are made when the small business owner can actually meet the procurement agent one-on-one and discuss specifics.”
Workshops will cover SBA certification program services, and mentor and protegee firms. The luncheon speaker is Janet Koch, program manager for the Department of Defense’s mentor-protegee program. A panel of three local small business owners will also discuss the steps they took on their rise to success.
The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Small Business Office and the national Defense and Industrial Association Small Business Committee are also sponsoring the daylong event.
Admission to the trade fair and workshops is free, although there is limited seating and pre-registration is required. There is a $25 fee for breakfast and lunch. The program will be held at the Holiday Inn Mission Valley, 595 Hotel Circle South. To register, call (858) 637-4920 or online at (www.sdecrc.com/classreg).
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Health Care Warning: The National Federation of Independent Business is warning small companies about a bill before the California Assembly that could be the death of affordable health care.
Assembly Bill 1751, by Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl, would abolish pre-dispute arbitration clauses in health plans. This, however, would line the pockets of trial lawyers, diverting money away from treatment, said Martyn Hopper, state director of the NFIB.
“This bill would simultaneously push health care out of the reach of thousands more Californians, drive up medical costs for those lucky enough to still have health plans, and clog the state’s already bulging court dockets with long and expensive trials,” he said.
Hopper cited Kaiser Permanente as an example of why the pre-dispute arbitration clauses should be retained. As a nonprofit organization, Kaiser spends the largest percentage of its premiums on health care in the state of California. Only 1/1,000 of a percent of its 31 million annual patient contacts results in patient litigation, Hopper said.
However, if AB-1751 were to become law, Kaiser would have to shift millions of dollars away from medical treatment and store it away in case it found itself the victim of what Hopper called a “grotesquely inflated” jury award. Hopper noted a separate insurer was saddled with a $116 million judgment.
That makes AB-1571 the “Health Care for Lawyers Act,” Hopper said.
Hopper noted that Kaiser opposes AB-1751, even though Assemblywoman Kuehl said she drafted the bill to exclude Kaiser.
Health care costs have been rising 10 to 15 percent for each of the last three years, forcing many employers either to increase the co-pay for employees or to drop coverage altogether. Kuehl’s measure would only exacerbate the problem, Hopper said.
The net result will be higher insurance premiums, less treatment, and less coverage.
“That will be the reality of the matter long after the politically fashionable ‘patients’ rights’ hosannas have quieted. In fact, the proposed law plays a cruel joke on California workers by providing them with rights to something many cannot possess.”
Furthermore, patients already have the right to sue their health insurers under Senate Bill 21, which was approved last year and signed by Gov. Gray Davis. The only people who will benefit from the new legislation are the trial lawyers, Hopper said.
Going Green: A cooperative of recycled product users celebrated their first anniversary last month with an announcement that their efforts have saved 2,600 trees.
The Recycled Products Purchasing Cooperative, started by Solana Recyclers in April 1999, hopes to make the price of recycled copy paper less expensive so more businesses will use it.
A year later, they say that co-op members have purchased more than 13,000 cases, or 325 tons, of 30 percent postconsumer recycled paper. This has saved the equivalent of 2,600 full-grown trees, said Jacy Davis, executive director for Solana Recyclers.
The cost savings can be huge, Miller said. There are no fees to be a co-op member, delivery is quick, and the price often is cheaper than the cost of nonrecycled paper, Davis said.
“The co-op is a win-win situation for everybody. It’s economical, supports sustainable jobs, and most importantly conserves natural resources,” Davis said.
The San Diego-based co-op has expanded to five other states, with plans to expand even further in the future, Davis said.
There are now more than 100 members, including Union Bank of California, SeaWorld San Diego, the Del Mar Fairgrounds, the Ardell Group, the cities of Encinitas and National City, UCSD, Aloha Printing, Solana Beach Presbyterian Church, and other schools, businesses, mortgage companies and cities, Davis said.
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