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Furniture Store Owner: Universal Story Drew Clinton’s Attention With PM-Health Care Rdp

September 23, 1993

TITUSVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ The furniture store owner used by President Clinton as an example of health insurance’s effects on small businesses says he’s looking forward to its benefits.

The program Clinton outlined Wednesday night will ″definitely help,″ said Kerry Kennedy. ″It looks like to me they are going to make it a little better and less costly for small business.″

Clinton referred to Kennedy to point out the problems small businesses face in providing health care to employees.

Kennedy said rising costs forced him to drop insurance on his own parents, who founded the business, and the families of his employees. He eventually provided for the employees through another policy and his parents bought their own policy.

Kennedy’s story drew the administration’s attention when he and 12 other business owners met this year with Rep. Jim Bacchus, D-Fla., and Health and Human Resources Secretary Donna Shalala.

They kept him up to date on what the administration was planning.

″I asked them, ‘Why do you want to use us?’ and they said, ‘Well, you represent the vast majority of people,’ ″ he said. ″And the point about my parents demonstrated elderly discrimination.″

He said he got a an hour before the speech notifying him he would be mentioned.

Clinton proposes requiring most businesses to help pay for employees’ insurance costs. At present, many small businesses opt not to provide health insurance at all.

There would be discounts for small companies with 50 or fewer employees and an average wage of $24,000 or less. And alliances of heath consumers would be formed to negotiate with health care providers for lower costs.

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