Healthcare Business News

Dems offer ACA tweaks aimed at small businesses, consumers

By Paul Demko
Posted: March 28, 2014 - 4:00 pm ET

Democrats offered their own package of changes to Obamacare this week, perhaps with an eye toward upcoming midterm elections and key constituents such as small business owners and voters who have complained about the costs of exchange insurance plans.

The plan, designed to modify some of the most unpopular provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, was put forth by five Democrats—three of whom are up for reelection this year—and one independent who caucuses with the Democrats.

They proposed raising the threshold at which businesses are required to offer insurance to their employees to 100 workers, as well as increasing subsidies for small businesses. The current threshold is 50 workers, although that requirement has been delayed until at least 2015.

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The plan also would give exchange customers the option of choosing lower-premium, higher-deductible plans than those currently allowed on the state and federal marketplaces.

In addition, the plan would bolster funding for start-up, not-for-profit insurers currently operating in 23 states. The package also includes a popular Republican prescription for fostering competition: allowing insurance products to be sold across state lines.

The authors are Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Angus King (I-Maine), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).

“As I have said from the beginning, the Affordable Care Act is not perfect,” Landrieu said in a statement. “No law is. That is why I am happy to join with several of my colleagues to put forth some ideas to make it work even better.”

Follow Paul Demko on Twitter: @MHpdemko

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