WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act lowers costs and increases choices and stability for small businesses. It will do this through numerous provisions championed by Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, including a small business tax credit to benefit more than 3.6 million small businesses – more than 50,000 in Louisiana alone – market reforms and a system of exchanges to help make health insurance more accessible and affordable for America’s 29 million small firms.
“For years, small business owners and workers have struggled under a broken health care system,” Sen. Landrieu said. “With the Senate’s passage of this bill, we are one step closer to transforming this broken system into one that works for small firms and all Americans.
“In addition to creating a robust system of exchanges and market reforms that will increase choices and decrease costs for small businesses, this bill includes numerous improvements that I spearheaded. Senators Lincoln, Stabenow and I helped to enhance the small business tax credit to make it effective immediately upon passage and help make health care more affordable to more small businesses. Additionally, provisions I called for that were included in this bill will better target the programs within the bill to reach small businesses, ensuring that the health insurance process is more accessible and user-friendly so small business owners can get back to what they do best – running their businesses.
“Together, these responsible reform measures will help small businesses to grow, create jobs, compete in the global market, and lead our nation back to economic prosperity.”
The bill includes:
- INSURANCE EXCHANGES
Under the Senate health reform bill, states may immediately create insurance exchanges – and must create them by 2014 – to pool small businesses with up to 100 employees, or up to 50 at state option, together to spread risk. These exchanges could, in some cases, reduce administrative costs by as much as 22 percent, according to a recent Business Roundtable Report. For America’s 22 million self-employed – who have seen their premiums rise 74 percent since 2001 – exchanges where individuals can purchase insurance could reduce their coverage costs by about 30 percent, according to MIT economist Jonathan Gruber.
- MARKET REFORMS
Insurance companies will not be allowed to deny or rescind coverage based on preexisting conditions or health status. The bill also has no employer mandate. Instead, it has a shared responsibility provision for businesses with more than 50 employees. About 96 percent of small businesses are exempt from this provision.
- SMALL BUSINESS TAX CREDIT
Beginning in 2010, a tax credit will be available for small employers with 25 or fewer employees with average annual wages less than $50,000. The full credit will be available to employers with 10 or fewer full-time employees with annual wages averaging $25,000 or less. In 2014, once the exchanges are up and running, small businesses that participate in the exchange will receive a tax credit for two years.
To read more about the small business provisions Sen. Landrieu championed in the bill, please click here.