Burlington County Times

To Their Health

Burlington County Times — December 19, 2008

Burlington County Times


MOUNT HOLLY — Business owner Joseph Peregman wants the best for his employees at Ocean Tents & Party Rentals, but he claims the high cost of health insurance prevents him from offering health coverage to all his workers.

"I have guys that work really hard for me who must go without coverage or purchase their own health-care plans," Peregman said Thursday. "If the economy remains poor, I might not be able to afford to have anyone on health coverage."

Situations like Peregman's are too common among small businesses owners in New Jersey and across the country, according to Leo Torrey of NJ Citizen Action, a nonprofit advocacy group.

In response, the group has formed a new statewide coalition of businesses that will push for federal and state action on health care reform with the objective of making it more affordable to small businesses.

More than 200 businesses from across the state have signed on to be members of the coalition, Torrey said Thursday during a kickoff news conference at Peregman's business on Route 38.

Other Burlington County businesses that have joined the coalition include New Jersey Medical Supplies in Mount Laurel; Willingboro Florist; Silver Lining, a jewelry shop in Mount Holly; and Clover Meat Market in Burlington Township.

More businesses are being recruited, Torey said. Letters on behalf of the coalition also have been sent to state and federal lawmakers requesting meetings with coalition business owners and Citizen Action representatives to discuss the need for health care reform, he said.

"Small businesses are all too frequently paying an arm and a leg for insurance that doesn't even cover all their medical needs," Torrey said. "They are forced into impossible choices between meeting payroll or paying health care — between paying exorbitant rates for coverage or risking everything by going without."

Marilyn Quinn, a volunteer with the National Organization of Women's Alice Paul Chapter, also spoke about the need for more affordable health care, noting that women workers generally pay a larger portion of their income toward medical coverage.

"They pay a bigger percentage of their income because they earn less than men on average, they are more often head of single-parent families, and women have greater health-care needs," Quinn said.

Businesses interested in joining the coalition can contact NJ Citizen Action at (973) 643-8800.

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