Blue Dogs’ pressure eases healthcare burden on small business — a little

One one hand, you could say employers owe a vote of thanks to the Blue Dog Democrats for easing the burden that small business might have to bear under the Obama administration’s healthcare reform legislation. On the other hand, you might argue there’s not all that much to be thankful for.

The Blue Dogs, a group of rightish Democratic House members, threatened to scuttle discussion of the healthcare reform measure unless cuts were made. Party leaders agreed to some compromises that would soften the blow for employers. The proposal now:

  • exempts businesses with annual payrolls of under $500,000 from penalties for not providing health coverage to workers. Earlier versions of the bill set the ceiling at $250,000.
  • still would impose an 8% surtax on companies that don’t offer health insurance, but would impose penalties on a sliding scale for payrolls between $500,000 and $750,000. The penalty on a $500,000 annual payroll: 2%.

Not surprisingly, Republicans and groups like the National Federation of Independent Business weren’t impressed with the changes, saying the proposal’s still too costly for small companies and will end up killing jobs.

One interesting omission in the Blue Dogs’ new deal: There’s no mention of the original bill’s proposed surtax on the rich.

Here’s how that breaks down:

  • Individuals with incomes over $280,000 a year or joint-filing couples with incomes over $350,000 would face additional taxes,  figured on a sliding scale, of between 1% and 5%.
  • Starting in 2011, a family making $500,000 would pay an additional $1,500 in federal taxes. At an income of $1 million, the surtax would be $9,000.

Finally, the Blue Dogs also convinced party leadership to postpone a vote on healthcare reform until September.

A lot can happen between now and then. We’ll keep you posted.

0 thoughts on “Blue Dogs’ pressure eases healthcare burden on small business — a little”

  1. The so called “Blue Dogs” in most cases have accepted millions in legalized bribes (a.k.a. “campaign contributions”) from large insurance companies and their lobbying groups. That’s why they’re doing this.

    As a small business owner, nothing would help me or my employees as much as a public health care option. Without a public option, any and all “health care reforms” will amount to little more than window dressing.

    Many small business owners are catching on to this and demanding a public option. I’ve gotten a lot of good information from this group:
    http://www.smallbusinessmajority.org

    Check it out, especially if you own a small business.

  2. One of the last things I want is for the people who run the IRS, Dept of
    education, OSHA,and the post officve to run my insurance. Remember these people are not friendsd to small business. They are the ones who passed all of the regulations we are under today. Also thkey are tkhe ones whko passed the free trade agreementsd that put us in compotetion with 12 cent per hr labor and are about to pass the cap and trade regulatioins which will send more jobs off shore and cost more american jobs.

  3. As another small business owner, I am in total agreement with Steve Nesich. The blue dogs just getting out of the way would be the best option. It’s too bad that so many people are getting their “facts” from the special interests (insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, etc).

    As a small business owner, I WANT to provide health insurance for my employees. It is becoming very hard to do with the rates going up at such an ever increasing rate.

  4. I agree with Steve Nesich 1,000%. I am a small business owner in NJ who does provide health insurance for my eight employees. For years now the health insurance companies have been charging ever more exorbitant premiums for less and less coverage. A strong public option would be a godsend to me and my employees.

    The embarassingly large campaign contributions the “Blue Dogs” and the GOP receive from large insurance companies is tantamount to legalized bribery to maintain the status quo. Moreover, the change the Blue Dogs made will actually increase costs to small business owners in coming years.

    Maybe Mr. Gould should do some actual research and reporting instead of simply parroting the daily GOP talking points memo.

  5. The best thing for healthcare reform if we are talking about lowering costs are to first tackle tort reform and second allow people to buy policies across state lines. And no, I’m not getting my knowledge from any special interest groups. Which Small Business Majority appears to me with who is behind it.

  6. I definitely disagree with Steve’s assessment from my small business perspective. I have a non-medical home care business that has now grown to 250 wonderful caregivers. Because of the competition for the home care business, we all operate with very thin margins resulting in competitive prices for the elderly that need us to stay in their homes. An additonal 8 % to my bottom line would be $216,000 resulting in lower wages for my caregivers, increased cost to our clients and perhaps a huge advantage to our competition,”registries”, that use 1099 contract employees that have none of the protections I offer, not to mention their lack of a contributing FICA tax to the govt. Do they need basic health insurance, sure, on the back of their employer, no way.

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