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Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan October 8, 2008

Small businesses exempt from Obama's plan

At the second presidential debate in Nashville, John McCain attacked Barack Obama's health care plan.

Obama's plan calls for "mandates and fines for small businesses," McCain said.

"If you're a small business person and you don't insure your employees, Senator Obama will fine you — will fine you. That's remarkable," McCain said.

But we find that when you dig into the nitty gritty of Obama's plan, that's not the case.

Obama's plan expands health care coverage for those who don't have it by a number of strategies, such as creating national pools for individuals to buy their own insurance. It increases eligibility for the poor and children to enroll in initiatives like Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. And it aims at reining in costs for everyone by streamlining medical record-keeping and emphasizing preventive care.

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Obama's plan does not mandate coverage, except for children. Obama said often during the Democratic primary campaign that he did not include a mandate for adults so as not to penalize people with modest incomes. If there's a mandate on anyone to purchase health care, the mandate would be on parents, not small businesses.

Obama's plan says that employers who don't offer their employees insurance will be required to contribute to the national pool. Obama's plan exempts small businesses from contributing to the pool. The plan does not define what's a small business and what's not.

McCain calls this a "fine," but being required to contribute to a pool is not the same as paying a penalty for some wrongdoing.

So even by a generous definition, Obama does not fine "small businesses." Indeed, they are not even subject to the mandate. We rate McCain's claim False.

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Small businesses exempt from Obama's plan

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