(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she introduced and passed an amendment to the Health Education Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee’s health care reform bill that protects small businesses from being unfairly penalized for growing and adding jobs. This amendment changes the employer responsibility section of the bill to exempt small business owners from payments on their first twenty five employees.
“Small business owners are desperate for health care reform, but we need to ensure that our plan does not hurt their ability to grow their businesses and hire new workers,” said Senator Patty Murray. “Small businesses are the heart and soul of the American economy and we need to encourage them to grow. My amendment removes the unfair burden that small business owners would have to bear upon growing beyond 25 employees, and replaces it with an equitable system that preserves employer responsibility while not discouraging growth and job creation.”
“I really appreciate Senator Murray’s work to ensure that as we reform the health care system, small businesses are able to continue to grow and add jobs,” said Robbie Cape, CEO and co-founder of Cozi.com, a small Seattle-based company specializing in family software and online services. “The business community needs to play an active role in health care reform, and this amendment will allow small businesses to participate in the system without breaking the bank. ”
Prior to the passage of Senator Murray’s amendment the HELP Committee’s health reform bill exempted employers with 25 or fewer employees from employer responsibility payments. With that 26th employee, however, businesses would be required to pay responsibility payments for all of their employees. This could discourage businesses from growing past 25 employees or even encourage the termination of some employees to make the 25 worker cap.
Senator Murray’s amendment changed this provision to require businesses to pay responsibility payments only for the number of employees over 25.
For example, if a company employees 27 employees, the business will pay responsibility payments for two employees, not 27 as was originally drafted. This will encourage job creation while ensuring employers are either proving health coverage for their employees or paying into a public system that will.
Senator Murray has been an outspoken leader in the Senate on the need to pass comprehensive health care reform that lowers costs to help both businesses and families. The way the employer responsibility section was originally written it would have had an unintentional, but potentially harmful cost for small business owners.
In June Senator Murray joined colleagues on the HELP committee to introduce the “Affordable Health Choices Act", a bill aimed at ensuring that all Americans have access to high quality, affordable health care.
Senator Murray is a senior member of the HELP Committee and a member of the Senate Democratic leadership.