As a small-business owner in Louisiana, I am deeply concerned with the increasing cost of health care. It continues to grow every year and if unchecked, our operations will be in jeopardy. One of the key benefits that I provide for my employees is health insurance. Just over the past few years, my annual premium increases have averaged between 6 percent and 22 percent.

And now, as part of the president’s “Affordable Care Act.”the projected Health Insurance Tax (HIT) scheduled to go into effect in 2014 will add another $500 per employee to those premiums, according to figures from the Congressional Budget Office. Such an increase will probably force me to reduce other benefits for my current employees and will deter me from hiring additional personnel.

With over 1 million Louisiana workers depending on small businesses such as mine for their livelihood, Congress should be finding a way to make it easier to offer health care, not harder. We simply cannot afford this costly new tax.

As chairwoman of the U. S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Sen. Mary Landrieu is in a key leadership position to help us repeal the HIT. Over the years, Sen. Landrieu has been a champion for industries throughout the state from energy to seafood, and has authored many legislative initiatives that benefit small business. But now we face this even-larger challenge that will hurt all small businesses.

I urge Sen. Landrieu to take the lead once again and work to eliminate this harmful tax and thereby protect the small businesses who contribute so much to our state¹s economy.

Mike Mitternight

business owner