In the national debate about health care, the voices of small business owners are often eclipsed by partisan rhetoric. As a small business owner, I’m writing to flag to our politicians that quality, affordable health care is essential for both entrepreneurship and the communities that support small businesses. The repeal plan moving through Congress, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), threatens Main Street from all sides.

My husband and I own a small business, a green design and build company for average-income clients like the people who live and work around us here in Maine. We were both born and raised in state, and we moved back when it was time to take on two major life challenges — starting a family and starting a business.

Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), private insurance was unaffordable, and I was unable to leave my job in order to keep our young family covered. With the ACA, I could focus full-time on our business. Since then, our business has quintupled, which is good for us and also for many others in the area. We’re able to employ more local plumbers, electricians, and carpenters, and purchase more local materials like Maine’s great lumber.

The AHCA badly hurts business by introducing a lot of uncertainty into our local economy. It throws 23 million people off insurance and slashes Medicaid by $834 billion. What happens to our community when people get sick without insurance? What happens to the local economy when Maine’s Medicaid dollars disappear and the bottom falls out? With premiums expected to jump 20 percent next year because of the AHCA, how many of our clients, average-income Mainers, will feel confident enough in their own financial future to hire us for a job?

Alarmingly, Sen. Susan Collins recently indicated she might compromise on the AHCA with a slower phase-out of Medicaid. If she cares at all about Maine’s small businesses, economy, and her constituents, she shouldn’t compromise with their health at all.

Emily Ingwersen

Main Street Alliance member

Owner, Ginger Hill Design + Build in Arundel