Small Businesses for Health Care Reform organized late last year, just as the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut was preparing to roll out its legislative proposal.
The Connecticut Association of Realtors makes up the biggest share of its membership. With all the trouble in the housing market, President Linda St. Peter's says improving access to health care remains a priority.
"Obtainable, affordable, and portable health insurance comes up consistently in the top five concerns we have today."
The Universal Health Care Foundation's proposal calls for the merger of state health care plans, and for that pool to be eventually opened to nonprofits, municipalities and businesses. It also emphasizes structural changes to bring down health care costs, including chronic disease management and electronic medical records.
The plan could start as early as 2011 if passed by the legislature. It wouldn't cost any state money until 2014, when the price tag jumps to $950 million.
Supporting this proposal is the new business group's first effort - but West Hartford business owner Kevin Galvin says he also wants to offer a different perspective on economic policy. He says the state's largest business lobby group, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, should not dominate the debate.
"We don't feel that they're a true representation of small business here in the state, and they also sell insurance, so it puts them at the table in a different place than where we would be."
CBIA takes issue with that characterization. Associate Counsel Eric George says it offers insurance plans for small employers, but it is more interested in advocating for its members.
George does have concerns about this specific health care proposal. He worries it may set up an insurance pool that does not have to comply with the same regulations as other private plans.