A report released today by the Iowa Main Street Alliance claims a majority of small business owners in the state would be willing to join a public health insurance plan. A survey of 90 small businesses found 52% favor a public option plan, compared to 34% backing expanded private market options.

State Senator Jack Hatch, a Democrat from Des Moines, says legislation will be introduced next week that would allow small businesses, non-profits and cities and counties to "buy-in" to the state health care plan. "It will allow our state employees’ plan to be expanded, to make it more affordable, to represent the greater depth of the individual contributions of the businesses, employers and employees," Hatch said.

The legislation is modeled after a similar measure passed by lawmakers in Connecticut last year, but vetoed by that state’s governor. Hatch says the smallest businesses in Iowa are the ones struggling the most to afford health insurance coverage for their employees.

"Those small businesses that have less than 10 employees are finding it the most difficult and very little is being done for them," Hatch said. "We hope to have a plan through the state to provide those small businesses with an avenue and this report clearly states that people are willing to do that."

Hatch, who chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee, says the public health insurance plan would not be subsidized by the state and public employees would still maintain their right of collective bargaining.