WASHINGTON – Several provisions authored and promoted by U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., were included today into the Senate compromise amendment to The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. A final vote on the amendment will occur next week.
While the underlying legislation already lowers costs and increases choices for small businesses, Sen. Landrieu’s amendments expand the tax credit to more small businesses, make the credits available immediately and give entrepreneurs a greater voice in the reform efforts. The Landrieu initiatives provide $13 billion more in tax credits for small businesses who want to offer affordable, quality health care coverage to their employees.
“Throughout this debate, small business owners and advocates have remained at the negotiating table and the Senate compromise announced today is a direct result of their input and support,” Senator Landrieu said. “By working together we have added an infusion of about $13 billion to the small business tax credits in the underlying bill to help small businesses struggling to provide their employees with affordable health care. Expanding the tax credits to more small businesses and making the ‘bridge’ credit available immediately will ensure that health insurance is even more accessible for small business owners and workers. Additionally, the programs created by the bill will be better targeted to make the health insurance process more accessible and user-friendly. Together, these changes will help small business owners can get back to what they do best – running their businesses.
“Reforming health care has been a long and difficult process. There have been lots of twists and turns, but after months of working, this final product, in my view, will meet the objectives that we laid out at the beginning of this debate. America’s small businesses and families are relying on Congress to pass reform that will drive down costs and create more choice, which will give them the chance to thrive and create jobs once again. For hard-working Americans, lower premiums will mean higher wages and more money in the pockets of those who need it most.”
The provisions included in the manager’s amendment today include:
• S. AMDT # 3014 – Make the “Bridge” Credit Available Sooner for Small Business
Sponsors: Senators Landrieu, Stabenow, Shaheen, Bayh, Lincoln, Boxer
To help small businesses bridge the current affordability gap they are facing in providing health insurance for their employees before the exchanges are up and running, beginning in 2011, a “Bridge” tax credit is phased in for small businesses with 25 or fewer employees with average annual wages of less than $40,000. This amendment makes the Bridge Credit available in 2010, so more small businesses can more immediately afford to provide health insurance for their workers.
• S. AMDT # 3085 - Expand the Small Business Tax Credit
Sponsors: Senators Lincoln, Durbin, Kerry, Landrieu, Bayh
The current proposal includes Bridge and Exchange credits that are phased in for small businesses with 25 or fewer full-time employees with average annual wages of less than $40,000 that contribute to at least half their employees’ health-care costs. However, the full value of these credits is only available to employers with 10 or fewer full-time employees with annual wages averaging $20,000 or less. This amendment expands this wage limitation to $25,000 for both the Bridge and Exchange credits to allow more small businesses access to the full credit. It also expands the wage limitation for the partial credit from $40,000 to $50,000.
• S. AMDT # 3010 - Providing Information on Small Business Health Care Options
Sponsors: Senators Landrieu, Snowe, Durbin, Bayh, Shaheen, Lincoln
The bill currently establishes an Internet portal for individuals to easily access affordable and comprehensive coverage options. This amendment specifies that small businesses receive information on available health care options, including information regarding reinsurance for early retirees, small business tax credits, and other information specifically for small businesses regarding affordable health care options.
• S. AMDT #3008 - Small Business Contracting
Sponsors: Senators Landrieu, Snowe, Shaheen
The amendment clearly states that agencies cannot waive the Federal Acquisition Regulation, which requires them to report small business contracting numbers and meet small business contracting goals of 23 percent.
• S. AMDT # 3007 - Reviewing the Impact of Reform on Small Businesses
Sponsors: Senators Landrieu, Snowe, Bayh, Shaheen
This amendment requires GAO to specifically review the impact of exchanges on the affordability and access of healthcare for small businesses. The amendment comes after several Small Business Committee hearings on this issue and ensures that exchanges are indeed making a difference for small business owners.
• S. AMDT # 3006 - Small Business Representation
Sponsors: Senators Landrieu, Snowe, Shaheen, Bayh
The Senate bill creates a National Health Care Workforce Commission to address health care worker shortages, improve Federal coordination, and improve innovation in the industry. This amendment would include a member representing small businesses and the self-employed on the Commission to give these members of the health care sector a voice in this Commission.
• S. AMDT # 3005 - Ensuring SBA Resource Partners are Eligible for Awareness Grants
Sponsors: Senators Landrieu, Snowe, Bayh, Shaheen
The bill lists Small Business Development Centers as eligible recipients of exchange public awareness grants. The amendment would include all Small Business Administration partners in the program, including: Women’s Business Centers, SCORE, Minority Business Centers, Veteran Business Centers, etc.