Area small business leaders voice concerns over health insurance tax
CROWLEY - Local business owners gathered Tuesday at the offices of Sterling Wellness Solutions for a roundtable event to discuss the threat and implications of the looming Health Insurance Tax (HIT). As a part of President Obama’s Health care reform overhaul that was signed into law last year, the HIT will begin targeting small business owners more than $87 billion in the first decade alone and reduce the annual take-home wages of the average business employee by $500 every year last year.
Among the business owners present were Pat Bordes of Fezzo’s Restaurant, Mike Hensgens of G&H Seed and Charlie Butler of LeeVac Industries in Mermentau.
“The Health Insurance Tax could have a devastating effect on hundreds of thousands of small businesses, severely reducing their ability to expand, create new jobs and contribute to the state’s economy,” said Claire Kelbaugh, president of Sterling Wellness Solutions in Crowley. “This provision of the new law is very scary and disappointing health care reform should be about making coverage more affordable, not more expensive.”
During the event, Crowley small business owners and advocates discussed the direct impact the HIT will have on the small business community as well as the significance of repealing the costly tax.
Representative Charles Boustany, R-La., has introduced legislation (H.R. 1370 aimed at repealing the HIT before it is implemented in 2014.
“2014 is not that far away and we only have a small window of opportunity to do something before then,” said Melissa Landry of Landry and Associates.
“With small businesses hurting from a stalled economy and rising health insurance premiums, it is clear this is not the time to impose new costs on our nation’s job creators,” said Rep. Boustany in a press release. “ It is estimated that this tax will increase the cost of small business health insurance premiums to the tune of $500 per employee. This will severely limit the ability of small businesses across the country to invest in their future or create job opportunities that our citizens so desperately need. That’s the wrong approach and that’s why I’m working to stop it.”
The HIT, which is hidden within the many pages of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, was originally intended to target large insurance companies. The reality, however, is that this heavy burden will mostly fall upon small business owners and their employees and the self-employed to the tune of $87 billion within the first ten years and $208 billion within the second ten.