Will Healthcare Reform Happen Next Year?

It's going to take a lot from Obama.

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Steve King
Steve King

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has released the results of a survey showing that making healthcare more affordable is a major concern of small-business owners and a primary issue facing their business.

According to the survey of 400 small businesses that pay for at least some of their employees' health benefits, 42 percent said making healthcare more affordable should be a top priority for the incoming administration.

Healthcare reform has broad popular support and was one of President-elect Obama's major campaign issues. Business groups and small business associations like the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and others are also strong proponents of healthcare reform.

But despite the need and broad-based support, healthcare reform will not be easy to achieve. Powerful interest groups oppose reform and supporters squabble over how to do it. And most proposals require substantial increases in federal healthcare spending.

But the biggest obstacles may be higher priorities and concerns that healthcare reform is too hard to achieve.

The new administration's highest priorities are going to be the economy, jobs, Iraq, and Afghanistan. It may simply not have the bandwidth to tackle such a contentious and difficult issue.

I was recently in Washington and had the opportunity to meet with people involved in federal government policy debates. Almost all pointed out the damage done to the Clinton administration by their failed healthcare reform effort.

While healthcare reform that would be meaningful for small business could happen next year, it seems more likely that it will take longer to accomplish.

Steve King is a partner at Emergent Research where he leads an ongoing research project to identify, analyze, and forecast the global trends and shifts impacting small business. He blogs at www.smallbizlabs.com.

small business
health care

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