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FROM THE HILL

the same health insurance policy. Provisions in this program are designed to level the playing field. Secondly, small businesses have been

hardest hit by premium increases – some getting double digit annual increases. And finally, unlike the image that this program is going to give a hand-out to lay-about folks, a full 60 percent of America’s uninsured – 28 million – are actually small business owners, employees, and their families. How the program helps small business

includes several incentives and programs. Businesses with 25 employees or fewer and

less than $50,000 in average annual wages are eligible for a tax credit that covers a portion of their health insurance premium costs, if the business covers at least 50 percent of the total premium cost for their employees. The tax credit goes into effect immediately and is worth 35 percent of premium costs for small businesses with 10 or fewer employees and average annual wages of less than $25,000. For businesses between 10 and 25

employees the tax credit phases out gradually based on employee counts. Starting in 2014, the tax credit increases to

50 percent for small businesses with 10 or fewer employees and average wages below $25,000 in 2006. The program also calls for creating more

competition in the health insurance market through state-based insurance exchanges in which small business owners can choose from a variety of plans that would provide better coverage at lower costs. The new health insurance exchange will pool small businesses and their employees with millions of other Americans to increase purchasing power and competition in the insurance market. TheObama Administration and

Congressional Democrats believe the increased purchasing power and competition within the exchanges will bring down premiums. They also contend the exchange will reduce administrative costs for small businesses and their employees by enabling them to easily and simply compare the prices, benefits, and quality of health plans. “Health insurance reform is right for

Montana’s trucking industry because it is tough on insurance companies and will drive down the cost of health insurance and health care,” said Senator Jon Tester. “The new law helps small businesses provide health insurance for their employees. And most importantly, the new health insurance exchange will offer an affordable solution to folks who don’t have insurance right now or who are self-employed.”

…OR NOT

Not everybody in the small business

community loves the new bill. Republican members of Congress as well as many of Washington’s small business organizations contend the bill will actually increase health insurance costs for small business owners and impose additional outlays such as new taxes and government mandates that will restrict small business growth. “I support true reform that would lower

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the cost of health care, but merely shifting the cost from the patient to the taxpayer isn’t a solution; they’re the same person,” Congressman Denny Rehberg said. “In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the $52 billion tax on small business contained in this bill will be passed on to employees in the form of lower wages, fewer jobs and a shift to more part-time positions. There’s never a good time to hamstring our economy, but I can’t think of a worse time than now.”

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ROADWISE | APRIL 2010 | www.mttrucking.org

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