Health Week Ahead: Florist Seeks Help on Health Law Compliance

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Washington, Mar 4, 2013 | comments

Health Week Ahead: Florist Seeks Help on Health Law Compliance
By Alex Wayne, Bloomberg News

A florist and a plumber are among those who will testify before Congress this week on how small businesses will deal with with rules that may require them to offer health insurance to their employees.

While the Affordable Care Act exempts companies with fewer than 50 workers from the requirement, small businesses just over that threshold have said they worry the coverage they already offer won’t comply with the law’s standards. Other business owners said they won’t be able to afford new policies available on marketplaces the government is building.

“Small businesses are grappling with the major effort of complying with the health-care law, and Congress should do everything possible to ease this burden,” House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves, a Missouri Republican, said in a statement announcing the Wednesday hearing.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that about 7 million people will lose their employer-provided health insurance in 2014, either because they choose to obtain insurance elsewhere or their employers drop coverage. Small businesses and companies with low-wage workers are more likely to drop their plans than larger employers, the chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has said.

“The law will impose new regulations, mandates, taxes and indirect costs on a number of small and medium-sized businesses,” Graves’s staff said in a memo prepared for the hearing that cites the Medicare actuary’s finding.

The CBO raised its projection on how many people would lose coverage mostly because Congress passed a law in January that locked in lower tax rates for most Americans, reducing the value of tax-free health insurance provided by employers.

Witnesses at the hearing include three small business owners, including one who supports the law, and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the former CBO director who now leads the American Action Forum, a Washington-based interest group that opposes the law.

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