According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), of the estimated 47 million Americans without health insurance, more than 28 million are small business owners, their employees and dependents. The Small Business Healthcare Options Program (SHOP Act, H.R. 6210) has been introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives. Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) and Phil English (R-Pa.) announced at a press conference the goal of creating statewide or nationwide purchasing pools for small businesses. H.R. 6210 is companion legislation to S. 2795, which was introduced in the Senate in April.
“We are pleased to learn of the enhancements to the SHOP Act as it affects many of our 4,200 rental business members,” said Christine Wehrman, executive vice president and CEO of the American Rental Association (ARA). “As an active association that strives to meet the needs of our members, our vice president for government affairs, John McClelland, is working very closely with political leaders in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., to keep this legislation moving forward.”
The bill is designed to make healthcare more affordable for the self-employed and small businesses. According to a summary of the legislation, the bill would:
- Allow small businesses and the self-employed to band together in a statewide or nationwide pool by 2011, to obtain lower health insurance prices by spreading the risk over larger numbers of participants
- Provide small business owners with an annual tax credit if they pay more than 60 percent of employee premiums, and a bonus tax credit for paying for more than 60 percent
- Provide an annual tax credit for the self-employed
- Keep prices lower by offering a range of private health plans that will have to compete for business
Lower healthcare administrative costs, and accountability measures that rely on oversight by state insurance commissioners, are also part of the plan to benefit small businesses. It’s anticipated that no further action will take place on this bill until after the 2008 presidential elections.
For information about the ARA, an international trade organization that supports equipment rental businesses, manufacturers and suppliers, visit www.ararental.org.