Mr. President, today I am introducing the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit Act which would provide small businesses with a refundable tax credit to help with the cost of providing employees with health insurance. Recent studies show that certain groups of individuals are less likely to have employer-provided health insurance. The 2006 Kaiser Family Foundation Employer Health Benefits Survey shows that since 2000 the number of firms offering health benefits has declined from 69 percent to 61 percent in 2006. This decline in coverage is more prevalent in small businesses. Only 48 percent of the firms with less than 10 employees offer health insurance whereas, 90 percent of the firms with 50 or more employees offer health benefits. Approximately 32 million Americans work for firms with fewer than 50 employees.

The April 2006 Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey concluded that 41 percent of working-age Americans with incomes between $20,000 and $40,000 were uninsured for at least part of the past year. This reflects a dramatic increase in this income range, up from 28 percent in 2001. The survey found that of the 48 million American adults who were uninsured in the past year, 67 percent were in families where at least one person worked full time.

My legislation provides a refundable tax credit to small businesses designed to help provide coverage to those who are currently uninsured. Small businesses with less than 50 employees would be eligible to receive a tax credit to help with the cost of health care premiums for employees making more than $5,000 and less than $50,000 a year. To be eligible for the credit, the employer has to pay at least 50 percent of the health care insurance premium. The credit for businesses with fewer than 10 employees will be capped at 50 percent of the cost of the premium, and the credit amount decreases for larger businesses.

Last year, Leonard Burman, Codirector of the Tax Policy Center, testified before the Senate Finance Committee and suggested a refundable tax credit as an incremental option to help defray higher administrative costs faced by small employers in purchasing health care. This credit will help small businesses afford health care premiums. It is a refundable credit, so that it will help new businesses that do not yet have taxable income be able to offer health care and provide struggling businesses with assistance so that they can offer health care.

This tax credit will cut the cost of health insurance by up to 50 percent for small business owners. It will enable small businesses to provide health insurance for their low- and moderate-income employees. Until we can agree on a comprehensive proposal that will help reduce the cost of health care premiums for small businesses, this legislation provides an appropriate option for increasing health insurance coverage for small businesses and their employees.

I ask for unanimous consent that the full text of the legislation be printed in the record immediately following my remarks.

Thank you.