Small Businesses Could Benefit From Insurance Exchanges
Supporters of health reform legislation told a Senate subcommittee Tuesday that the insurance exchanges are critical for small businesses, which pay more than large companies to cover their employees and are cutting jobs and insurance coverage to control costs. The San Francisco Chronicle reports: "Legislation approved by the Senate Finance Committee last week would create insurance exchanges that supporters say would aid small businesses by spreading risk among a greater number of participants. The result, they said, would be lower premiums. ... Small businesses could compare the price, quality and services of a number of plans offered through the exchanges, said Karen Mills, the administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration."
In the Senate Finance proposal, "businesses with up to 100 employees could enter into an insurance exchange." The bill "also includes a $23 billion small-business tax credit to encourage small businesses to participate in the exchange." Meanwhile, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R.-Maine, the only Republican on the Finance Committee to vote for the bill, "challenged the piece of the bill that would fine employers with more than 50 full-time employees who do not offer health coverage" (Joseph, 10/21).
The Boston Globe/The Associated Press reports on the struggles of one small business owner and another subcommittee hearing on a bill to create an exception for people whose medical bills principally caused their financial distress: "A Rhode Island woman urged senators yesterday to ease bankruptcy rules for people devastated by medical debt, as she described the pain of losing a child and going broke from his health care bills. The frightful experience of Kerry Burns, of Coventry, R.I., raised a crucial question of bankruptcy law: should people going broke due to high medical bills get a break over those bankrupted by divorce or credit card bills?" (Margasak, 10/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.