Small Businesses Continue Search For Health Reform InformationThe Bergen County (N.J.) Record/NorthJersey.com: Small businesses continue to assess the impact health reform will have on them. "While some believe the reforms will help control health costs and give assistance to small businesses that can't afford worker coverage, others are skeptical they will benefit when the plan is up and running - and some are sure it will hurt. Even those likely to get credits to help pay for coverage are wary: Some fear the benefit will be outweighed by a rise in taxes and other business costs as the nation creates a health care system capable of covering an extra 32 million people. Whatever the impact, few employers doubt that something needed to be done. North Jersey employers say the cost of health care rose by double-digit percentages in recent months - sometimes by as much as 40 percent" (Morley, 4/11).
The (Salt Lake City, Utah) Deseret News: "Businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees - the husband/wife co-owners of Hatch Family Chocolates in the Avenues have eight to 10 part-time workers - are targeted for some serious tax exemptions between now and 2014 under the behemoth, 10-year reform plan. The couple would jump at the tax break if they could, but because of the current proclivities of the U.S. health insurance industry - the main target of the reform - that deem the couple's dwarfism lifelong pre-existing conditions, employees can't come close to affording the premiums of being in their boss' insurance pool. The couple pay $925 a month for coverage. In this first stage of business exemptions, employers can receive a credit of up to 35 percent of their contribution toward the costs of providing health insurance to their employees as long as they contribute at least 50 percent of the total premium cost. The law gives the biggest subsidy to the smallest employers - those with 10 or fewer employees" though the credit phases out as firm size and average wage offered by the employer increases (Thalman, 4/12).
The Cleveland Plain Dealer: Reform provisions will also affect seasonal businesses like amusement parks and ski resorts who offer jobs to younger people. It's too soon to know if these employers will have to cover young people during the season they're working and much of the decision making will fall to "the rule-making phase that will take place over the next year or so, when the Department of Health and Human Services works out exactly how it will apply the new law. The final health bill says companies with at least 50 fulltime employees must provide coverage for employees who work at least 120 days in the calendar year. The ski and amusement park industries had preferred an earlier Senate proposal of 150 days, which would have helped with seasonal workers" (Koff, 4/12). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.