By S.E. Robinson
Maine Wire reporter
As Democratic lawmakers in the 126th Maine Legislature seek changes to Gov. Paul LePage’s health care insurance reform, known as Public Law 90, left-leaning non-profits across the state are gearing up for the fight.
The Portland-based Maine People’s Alliance (MPA), a well-known advocate of progressive causes, is leading the campaign against PL 90 through its front organization, the Maine Small Business Coalition (MSBC).
PL90, which has already driven down health insurance costs for consumers, allows more competition among insurers and more choice for consumers while keeping crucial consumer protections intact. PL90 already complies with or goes beyond the mandates of Obamacare.
MaineSmallBusiness.org describes the coalition as a grass-roots network of business owners who came together in 2008 to support President Barack Obama’s national health care reform. Since 2008, the group has continued to advocate for policies it describes as pro-small business, including more stringent environmental regulations, government-run health care and higher taxes on the wealthy.
Joel Allumbaugh, health care expert at The Maine Heritage Policy Center, produced three case studies of real Maine businesses showing that the exorbitant costs of Obamacare would result in layoffs and employers dropping health insurance coverage entirely—and could even force one company out of business. See the studies here, here and here.
MSBC does not openly advertise its affiliation with MPA, but Maine Secretary of State records show that “Maine Small Business Coalition” is an assumed business title registered to MPA—which means the group purporting to represent the interests of Maine’s small businesses is a project of liberal political operatives.
MSBC Director Kevin Simowitz confirmed on Monday that MPA is behind MSBC. But he said MPA’s partners and allies, who include national government employee unions and environmental advocacy groups, do not influence MSBC’s policy focus.
“MSBC is a project of Maine People’s Alliance, but choosing issues is done by the MSBC Steering Committee,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Maine Wire. “Oftentimes the issues overlap with MPA.”
While MSBC purports to have 3,400 members, a list of these businesses is not available online and Simowitz declined to provide one.
“It’s no surprise to learn that the Maine People’s Alliance is behind this astroturf business group,” said Maine GOP Chairman Rich Cebra. “All it takes is one look at their policy positions to see that they have no idea what Maine’s hard-working small business owners are really up against.
“If Maine lawmakers or the Maine press want to hear what Maine’s real small business owners—not a Maine People’s Alliance group—think, all they have to do is take a walk down their local Main Street and ask,” Cebra said.