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Tire dealers denounce health care bill

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Tire dealers are up in arms over the health care reform bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this past weekend. "I'm not pleased with it at all," says Jim Lynch, co-owner of Maine Commercial Tire Inc., an Augusta, Maine-based dealership.

"We've always provided insurance for our people who wanted it and we've always covered 60% of it for them, whether single or family," he told yesterday, March 22. "But it looks like (the bill) is going to take some of that control from us."

Dennis Dickson, president of Indy Tire Centers, an 11-location dealership based in Indianapolis, Ind., calls the bill "an example of the arrogance in Washington D.C. Did (the health care system) need help? Yes. Did it need a total government takeover? Absolutely not. Government, as we look at it, usually turns out to be the problem, not the solution."

Dickson says his company provides coverage "at all levels of our employees, from managers down to tire changers. It's a shared cost, but I think it's a fair program."

He believes the health care bill, if signed into law, will drive up his costs, which may force him to pass the cost onto his employees.

Craig Myers, treasurer of Allen Rubber Co. Inc. dba Allen Trio Tire & Service in Philadelphia, Pa., says his company has "had co-pays in place for years now." The dealership has four locations that employ about 25 people in total.

The dealership's insurer recently informed Myers that it will hike rates by 55% this summer, based on, he believes, "what they think is going to come down the road" if the health care bill becomes law. (The insurer posted massive profits in 2009, he adds.)

"I'd rather President Obama use his power" to stop insurance companies from gouging their customers, he says. "This bill is going to hurt small businesspeople. We're not going to put the burden on our employees. We will be forced to dig deeper into our own pockets."

Craig Bruneel, owner of Bruneel Tire Factory in Boise, Idaho, says however the bill shakes out, it will be "very expensive. I don't know what it's going to do (to my business.) Being a conservative, I think everybody should be accountable for their own health. I don't think we need more government intervention."

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