Bookmark and Share Contact us by phone: 561 450-8258. Contact us by email.


Health care reform praised at TED Center conference

Victoria Huges of the TED Center poses questions on minority and woman-owned business certification to panelists Nancy Allen, Beatrice Louissaint and Irwin Drucker durin the TED Center's small business conference on Monday. Pictured below: Anton Gunn of the Department of Health and Human Services. At bottom: Tom Barrett of MetLife.

By Palm Beach

Anton GunnDELRAY BEACH — The Affordable Health Care Act has been assailed as a job killer since it before it became law 15 months ago, but an Obama Administration official on Monday defended the reform act as a boon to the economy and to small businesses in particular.

Speaking at the TED Center’s Small Business Showcase and Conference Monday, Anton Gunn, Southeast regional director of the Department of Health and Human Services, said the bill levels the playing field for small companies seeking to provide health coverage for their employees. Between 150 and 175 entrepreneurs attended the TED Center conference, held at the South County Civic Center west of Delray Beach.

Gunn said AHCA makes health insurance more affordable for small businesses through  a 35 percent tax break on the cost of providing coverage for their employees. That break grows to 50 percent as of 2014.

“Health care is a major challenge for small businesses,” Gunn said. “Small businesses on average pay 18 percent more for health insurance than large companies. That’s significant. This is a significant opportunity to get some of that back.”

Gunn also noted that the act creates health care exchanges designed to create more competition in the health insurance market and give small businesses more choice in selecting a carrier.

The act also will outlaw discrimination by gender and for pre-existing conditions, which should give many would-be entrepreneurs now forced to work in the corporate world because of health insurance needs the freedom to strike out on their own.

“There are tons and tons of entrepreneurs and small businesses who can’t step out on their dreams because don’t know if they can afford or even get coverage at all,” Gunn said.

Gunn began his talk by emphasizing the administration’s commit to creating opportunity for small businesses the Small Business Jobs Act passed last fall. Part of that is expanding opportunities for small businesses to sell goods and services to the federal government. Gunn’s department has goal of making 23 percent of its purchases through small businesses but has hit only 19.5 percent to date.

“It’s priority because the president has a strong small business agenda,” Gunn said.

Conference attendees also heard from three experts on the advantages of getting certified as a minority or women-owned businesses — Nancy Allen of the Women’s Business Development Council of Florida, Beatrice Louissaint of the Southern Florida Minority Supplier Council and Irwin Drucker of IBM.

IBM is part of a consortium of major corporations that certify businesses not only as minority or women-owned but by disabled and gay/lesbian/transgendered ownership as well.

Drucker said it’s a mistaken belief on the part of new entrepreneurs that certification is going to lead to major contracts with companies such as IBM. There aren’t that many contracts to begin with, and generally they’re going to go to established enterprises as opposed to start-ups.

On the other hand, it’s still worth the time and money to get certified for other benefits, including the opportunity to network and do business with like entrepreneurs.

“Women in particular like to do business with other women,” Allen said. “You’re going to get some great referrals.”

Drucker also advised entrepreneurs to know their markets. He cited the example of one company that tried to sell him on bags for laptops, even though IBM has been out of the laptop business for years.

Tom Barrett of MetLife gave the audience tips on securing their financial future, including retaining key employees, preparing for interruptions that can threaten a business, including disability, and retirement planning.

He suggested that business people determine their financial goals and assemble a team of professionals to focus on issues involving those goals, including a CPA, a lawyer and a financial planner.



Keep up with YOUR community. Receive our FREE email newsletters!
For Email Marketing you can trust

Follow us on TwitterPalm Beach on LinkedIn

your ad here

Openings at $75K to $500K+

palm beach
JUNE 14, 2011 click to go home
click to go back to the top
Delray's Online Business and Community Newspaper