Release: Dean Phillips Is a Small-Business Owner Who Offers His Employees a Health Insurance Plan

Richard Carlbom: 651-261-1306

The Phillips for Congress campaign released the following statement today:

Dean Phillips is a small-business owner who offers his full-time employees a health insurance plan. Erik Paulsen is a career politician who has never owned or operated a business, never had to make a payroll, and never experienced the tradeoffs small-business owners make when determining wages and benefits for employees.

In fact, Congressman Paulsen’s votes in Congress have only exacerbated the challenges small businesses and their employees face, by jeopardizing access to healthcare for 23 million Americans, threatening coverage for more than 300,000 residents of Minnesota’s Third District with pre-existing conditions, imposing an age tax on seniors, and cutting Medicare. To attack any small-business owner, candidate or otherwise, for struggling to afford healthcare benefits while at the same time voting to systematically erode coverage and raise costs for millions of Americans is reprehensible.

Dean Phillips has made a career of building businesses, creating jobs and ensuring that employees of his businesses are offered the best combination of wages and benefits possible. For generations, the Phillips family has been known for taking good care of people and investing in the communities in which they do business. Employees at Phillips Distilling and Talenti Gelato received full benefits and enjoyed generous profit-sharing programs. Penny’s is a small business that is less than two years old, but it’s already putting those values into practice by paying livable wages and offering benefits and flexibility to its employees. At Penny’s, Dean and his business partners have chosen to live out their values by investing heavily in people in lieu of making quick profits.

When Dean and his business partners planned their first Penny’s coffee shop in 2016, there were no full-time employees. Facing the same difficulty most small businesses experience in affording healthcare coverage for part-time employees, they made the decision to pay a $15 minimum wage — nearly 50% higher than most coffee shops — to help their staff afford to purchase insurance through the individual market. Once the business opened and grew, a handful of employees were converted to full-time and Penny’s began offering a healthcare plan in which it pays 50% of the premium. Today, there are two Penny’s locations, with a third on the way, and all 29 employees still earn a minimum of $15/hour plus tips.

The challenge of finding and providing affordable healthcare is exactly why Dean is a proponent of an approach that would 1) fix and stabilize the ACA to make it more affordable for more people; 2) expand Medicare as a buy-in option for every American, to relieve the pressure on businesses — especially small businesses — that struggle with healthcare costs; 3) reform the care delivery model to lower costs by incentivizing prevention instead of procedures; and 4) ensure Medicare can negotiate prescription drug prices.

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