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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 26, 2006

Schumer Visits Putnam Hospital Center, Pushes New Proposal For Health Care For Small Businesses

Schumer Announces New Push For Small Employers Health Benefit Program, Which Would Allow Businesses To Pool Risk And Purchasing Power Together

Senator, Joined By Doctors, Hospital Administrators And Business Leaders, To Push for Passage of Legislation Insuring Small Business Employees and Easing the Burden on Local Hospitals

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today joined President and CEO Michael Webber to tour the Putnam Hospital Center. Schumer met with Webber and other health care executives to discuss plans for the hospital's growth and expansion, including construction of a new facility to begin later this year.

“We are in the middle of a health care crisis in the country, and getting relief for small businesses would be a huge step in the right direction,” Schumer said. “Small businesses are the backbone of Putnam County’s economy and we must do everything we can to support them. With health care costs as the number one burden facing small businesses, relief could not be more urgent.”

Schumer has joined Senators Richard Durbin (IL) and Blanche Lincoln (AK), in promoting the Small Employers Health Benefits Program (SEHBP) Act (S. 2510), which would enable small businesses across America to pool their risk and purchasing power together to expand access to affordable private health insurance options for their employees, while still preserving each states' health insurance coverage requirements. Employers would also receive an annual tax credit to defray part of the employer contribution for low-income workers and a bonus tax credit for paying a higher percentage of the premium. Every small business and self-employed American, rural or urban, would have access to a choice of plans. This new program would provide relief to local hospitals that spend more money on individuals without insurance than those who have it.

This legislation is supported by a broad range of industry leaders, including: American Academy of Family Physicians, American Medical Association, American Osteopathic Association, Consumer Union, Federation of American Hospitals, National Association of Community Health Centers, National Association of Women Business Owners, and Small Business for America.

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