Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, and Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.) introduced legislation designed to give small businesses some financial relief when it comes to paying the high costs for employee healthcare coverage.
The bill, called the Cooperative for Healthcare Options to Improve Coverage for Employees, or CHOICE, Act, would give business owners a refundable tax credit of 65% to help cover employees and allows small firms to pool their employees with those of other businesses in a voluntary health cooperative. The larger employee base will give owners more leverage as they negotiate rates with insurers, Velázquez said.
Under provisions in the bill, self-employed individuals could save as much as $5,000 per year on health coverage costs, she said. About 20 million of the more than 47 million uninsured Americans are small-business employees, Velázquez told reporters. Over the past year, business owners have seen healthcare coverage costs rise by almost 15%, she added.
Small businesses should not have to choose between insuring their employees and stocking their shelves, Velázquez said. -- by Matthew DoBias