Proponents, Opponents of Health Reform Law Defend Their Positions
The Obama administration and proponents of the federal health reform law are marking the overhaul's one-year anniversary by promoting a provision that establishes small-business tax credits, National Journal reports.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans plan to use the upcomingÂ congressional recess to highlight problems associated with the overhaul.
Reform Law Proponents Promote Tax Credits
The health reform law grants tax credits covering up to 35% of health insurance premiums to businesses with fewer than 25 full-time workers and an average annual wage less than $50,000.
Families USA has estimated that around four million small businesses could qualify for the credits.
At a roundtable discussion in Cleveland, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently explained how the law could help small businesses, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) participated in a similar event in Las Vegas.
In addition, Karen Mills of the Small Business Administration on Monday sent a memo promoting the credits to small businesses and tax-preparation companies.
Miller said, "We realized small businesses were not aware enough of the potential benefits," adding that she wrote the memo because "this is money that is designed to help them." She noted that SBA will not know how many small businesses have claimed the credit until after 2010 taxes are filed. However, she said that more small businesses are purchasing health coverage, which could indicate that they are claiming the credit (McCarthy, National Journal, 3/21).
GOP Steps Up Criticism of Reform Law
Countering the SBA memo, U.S. Chamber of Commerce member Randy Johnson on Monday said that the small-business tax credits are "incredibly small." He said that only "the very smallest employers with very low-income employees would be eligible, and they're phased out over a couple years," adding, "Our experience â¦ has been that those small business tax credits are really more of a fig leaf than any help at all" (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/21).
Meanwhile, COC on Tuesday will begin running a print advertisement in Washington, D.C., publications that highlights what the group considers to be problems with the reform law. COC recently has focused its criticisms on penalties that employers could face if one of their workers qualifies for subsidized coverage or if a company's insurance does not meet federal standards (Adams, CQ HealthBeat, 3/21).
As lawmakers head to recess, Senate Republicans have prepared talking points focusing on problems associated with the reform law. The talking points highlight premium increases and say that some individuals will not be able to remain on their current health plans, which violates a promise President Obama made before the reform law was enacted.
Republicans also likely will focus on how Medicaid spending is contributing to states' combined $174 billion budget shortfall.
In addition, GOP lawmakers are expected to suggest that a reduction in Medicare spending included in the reform law will not happen and could jeopardize beneficiaries' access to care if it did (Friedman, National Journal, 3/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.