U.S. Chamber Applauds House Health Care Vote, Eyes Next Move
The House on January 19 pushed through legislation to repeal the 2010 health care reform law, which the U.S. Chamber says has discouraged job growth, increased costs, and put undue burdens on small businesses.
“Today’s vote sent an important message to the American people that Congress is listening to their call for health care reform that truly lowers cost and improves quality without irreparably damaging our economy and inhibiting job creation,” said U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President for Government Affairs Bruce Josten.
The House bill, however, is unlikely to be passed in the Senate. Therefore, the Chamber and its allies will focus efforts on dismantling the more onerous provisions of the existing law and crafting workable, meaningful alternatives. “We believe real, market-based solutions to lower the costs of health care, cover more of the uninsured, and improve the quality of care are long overdue. To achieve this goal, the Chamber believes a strong, bipartisan bill is a necessity,” Josten said. “The U.S. Chamber stands ready to help Congress build and pass a bill that what will actually improve our health care system and lower costs for all.”
Since the bill’s enactment in March of 2010, many of the business community’s greatest fears have been confirmed. For example, the virtual inability to “grandfather” current plans, and consequently make them exempt from some of the law’s provisions, has caused angst among employers.
In addition, some small businesses are disappointed with the tax credit, with one news story reporting about a small business having applied for the new 35% percent federal credit for the purchase of employee health care only to see the credit reduced to zero after accounting for the gradual phase-outs and other complex calculations.
The law’s biggest impact has yet to be felt. Beginning this year, the first of $569 billion in new and higher taxes on businesses and individuals goes into effect. In 2013, contributions to popular consumer-driven health plans such as health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts will be capped and limited. In 2014, American businesses with 50 or more employees will be required to offer “affordable” coverage to their employees or pay a stiff fine. Part-time employees’ cumulative hours are part of the calculation in determining the 50-employee threshold, and low-wage workers may trigger additional $3,000 fines.
In addition, the law requires businesses to file 1099 IRS forms for all non-credit card, business-to-business transactions equaling $600 or more in a year, creating onerous data collection and paperwork burdens for small businesses and start ups.
The Chamber is encouraging small business owners to tell their health care story at www.healthreformimpacts.com. The website also provides information about what’s in the law, implementation timelines, public opinion surveys, and studies.