Ken Walker the chairman of the International Franchise Association, and chairman and CEO of Driven Brands, at says “Start Over”. That’s the message that the International Franchise Association (IFA) and its grass-roots members are telling Congress as it considers comprehensive health-care reform. And we are not alone in this call.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that while the president and his congressional allies search for a way to pass their proposed health-care plan, most voters remain opposed to it. Forty-two percent now favor the plan, while 53 percent are against it — findings that have remained relatively constant since just after Thanksgiving. The new figures include just 20 percent who strongly favor the plan and 41 percent who are strongly opposed.

The IFA continues to urge Congress to put aside the divisive debate over a comprehensive approach and focus instead on policies that make coverage more affordable and accessible to all Americans, particularly franchised small businesses.

Even in ideal economic times, imposing costly regulations and taxes on business is a bad idea. Congress should pursue ways to streamline and modernize health-insurance regulation rather than adding new costs to job creation and adding to the federal deficit.

The Rasmussen Reports survey finds that 57 percent of voters say the health-care reform plan now working its way through Congress will hurt the U.S. economy. Just 25 percent think the plan will help the economy. But only 7 percent say it will have no impact. (Twelve percent aren’t sure.)

Two out of three voters (66 percent) also believe the health-care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats is likely to increase the federal deficit — up six percentage points from late November. Ten percent say the plan is more likely to reduce the deficit, and 14 percent say it will have no impact on the deficit.

There are several provisions in the Senate bill that impact small businesses, including an increase in the Medicare payroll tax by $54 billion over 10 years. This increase will likely hit approximately one-third of small businesses across the country, which employ 30 million Americans. Since the provision is not indexed for inflation, the number of small businesses (filers) that will pay the tax will increase 53 percent over the first seven years it is in effect.

Payroll taxes are an especially burdensome tax because they tax the cost of labor. Regardless of whether a small business makes a profit or not, it is forced to pay this tax.

Congress should move forward with sensible policies that provide regulatory certainty to small-business owners to assure sustainable economic recovery and job creation.

Legislation currently being considered by the House of Representatives still contains an unacceptable mandate on employers to provide health insurance. Instead of mandates, IFA is urging Congress to work on legislation that will adopt the following consensus reforms:

•Tax credits for small businesses and the self-employed to help them afford the full cost of health-insurance plans;

•National or regional exchanges where small businesses can pool together to purchase insurance plans and achieve the benefits of choice and competition;

•Consumer-driven options such as health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts; and

•Real medical liability reform to end the out-of-control costs associated with unnecessary defensive medicine.

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Click for Action!

Action Alert: Please contact your Members of Congress and urge them to OPPOSE the current health care reform proposals. Specifically, tell your representatives to maintain the part-time worker exemption currently in the Senate-passed bill.

Additionally, if you live in or operate your businesses in the following member’s districts, please emphasize the impact of employer-mandated health care on your business and employees and urge them to continue to vote against the current health care proposals:

• Bobby Bright (AL-02)
• Christopher Murphy (CT-05)
• Suzanne Kosmos (FL-24)
• Allen Boyd (FL-02)
• Frank Kratovil (MD-01)
• Bart Stupak (MI-01)
• John Adler (NJ-03)
• Mike McMahon (NY-13)
• John Boccieri (OH-16)
• Bart Gordon (TN-06)
• John Tanner (TN-08)
• Rick Boucher (VA-09)
• Glenn Nye (VA-02)
• Brian Baird (WA-03)

TALKING POINTS: Visit CFA Votes! to send a customizable letter to your elected officials. If you choose to contact your members via telephone, below are talking points for your reference.