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Congressman Dan Donovan

Representing the 11th District of New York


Donovan, Small Business Owners Assail Obamacare for Squeezing the Middle Class

November 30, 2015
Press Release
Robert and Nicole Silvestri’s family insurance premiums have doubled since 2010, to $25,000

Brooklyn, NY —November 30, 2015....Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11) today toured Frank J. Silvestri Insurance, Inc., a small, family-owned business that has served Dyker Heights and South Brooklyn for more than 50 years. Health insurance reforms enacted by President Obama’s Affordable Care Act have caused the family of four’s insurance premiums to increase to $25,000 per year, consuming resources that would otherwise go to growing their business and paying their employees.

Congressman Donovan said, “Obamacare is squeezing the middle class. The very wealthy have been able to afford higher insurance premiums and the poor receive generous subsidies, but those in the middle, like the Silvestris, are paying higher premiums for worse coverage they can barely afford. The ‘Un-Affordable Care Act’ would be more a more apt title.”

Nicole Silvestri, who runs the business with her husband, Robert Silvestri, said, “It’s tough enough to run a small business in New York City without having to pay $25,000 per year in health premiums. They said Obamacare would make coverage better and more affordable, but my family has been dropped by two carriers and our premiums have doubled in six years.”

The Silvestris, like families and small business owners around the country, find it ever more challenging to make ends meet as part of today’s middle class. New York State ranks 49th in the country in business tax climate. After the federal, state, and city governments get their cut, families must put money away for their children’s college tuition, make car payments, heat their homes, and buy groceries. A $25,000 annual health insurance premium adds a financial burden that many just cannot sustain.

The Affordable Care Act is not just making life difficult for private individuals and family-owned businesses. Today, Health Republic – the largest Consumer Oriented and Operated Plan (CO-OP) in the country – will terminate all of its policies, forcing 215,000 New Yorkers to find alternate coverage, including the Silvestris.

Further, UnitedHealth – the largest insurance provider in the country – threatened to pull out of the Obamacare marketplace by 2017. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company has stopped advertising and no longer pays commissions to its brokers – “It literally doesn’t want consumers to buy its products.”

Adding insult to injury, a McKinsey report predicts premiums for silver-rated plans in New York State – the middle-of-the-road option – will increase by up to 49 percent in 2016.

Congressman Donovan concluded, “Health Republic is a victim of the foolish logic that is crumbling in front of our eyes. To sustain itself, Obamacare requires young, healthy Americans to pay higher insurance premiums to cover the sick and poor. But young, healthy Americans are already burdened with student loans, rising rents, cell phone bills, and living expenses. Even if they purchase the cheapest coverage possible, the sky-high deductibles keep them out of the doctor’s office anyway, undermining the concept of ‘preventive care’ that is supposed to drive costs down.”

Congressman Dan Donovan represents Staten Island and South Brooklyn in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is New York City’s only Republican representative in Congress.