July 30, 2008 — The House Small Business Committee introduced a bill Wednesday that would help small businesses provide its employees health insurance. The bill would allow the companies to form health insurance purchasing cooperatives and would offer a refundable tax credit of 65% of the cost of the insurance, the Wichita Eagle reports.
Under the Small Business Cooperative for Healthcare Options to Improve Coverage for Employees Act of 2008, tax credits would be available to companies with no more than 100 employees. Eligible employers also would have to subsidize at least 65% of individual health coverage and up to 35% for family coverage, as well as offer a wellness program.
Employers who previously did not offer subsidized health insurance would receive a 5% bonus tax credit.
“Small businesses should not have to choose between providing health benefits to its employees and keeping its doors open,” Nydia Velazquez, committee chair, said in an e-mail. “The CHOICE Act will lower premiums while giving entrepreneurs the flexibility they need to ensure millions of Americans have access to health coverage” (Atwater, Wichita Eagle, 7/24).
Committee spokesperson Jaime Zapata said, “It has both tax elements and a pooling mechanism. Unlike other legislation, however, the CHOICE Act creates a cooperative that can work with existing state law” (Wichita Eagle, 7/24).
Source: California HeathLine, www.californiahealthline.org