Shaheen touts health care reform in PortsmouthMarch 30, 2010
PORTSMOUTH - Trying to draw attention to health care tax credits for small businesses, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., held a news conference Monday afternoon alongside owners of three such local businesses.
The health care tax credits for small businesses, part of sweeping and controversial health care reform legislation passed by Congress, are available to businesses with fewer than 25 employees making annual wages of $50,000 or less. Those that qualify can receive a tax credit of up to 35 percent of the cost of their employees' insurance premiums. By 2014, Shaheen said, that will increase to 50 percent, and both for-profits and nonprofits are covered.
Shaheen met with Jay McSharry, owner of Jumpin' Jay's Fish Cafe; Jon Bailey, owner of Bailey Works; and Dennis Lunn, owner of The Works Bakery; and the media to discuss the tax credits. Bailey and Lunn told their own stories of struggling to provide health care to employees as costs rise each year.
"We're here this morning because (life) in the current health care system is very difficult for small businesses," Shaheen said. "I've heard from small-business owners from across New Hampshire."
Shaheen said she was proud of the legislation, which she said will help the smallest of businesses in America, which either have to pay increased amounts to keep health insurance or forgo it entirely. Noting the number of small businesses in the city of Portsmouth and New Hampshire in general, she said the goal was simply to reach out to businesses and get the ball rolling on potentially saving them money.
An estimate by the Council of Economic Advisors provided by Shaheen noted that as many as 4 million small businesses could benefit from the tax credits.
Shaheen said she had not received any negative feedback about the tax credits portion of the health care bill.
Out of his eight full-time employees, Lunn said, the number of those able or willing to pay for health care through the company has dwindled rapidly; he pays 65 percent and employees pay 35 percent of the cost, he added. He said that's largely due to rate increases, adding that "cost containment" was a major concern of his when it came to health care, and a lack of real competition between large insurance companies made it worse.
He said, even with the 35 percent credit, it will still be difficult for him and his employees to afford coverage.
"Yes. It'll help," Lunn said.
Bailey, who has three employees at his high-end bag manufacturing company, has long been unable to shoulder the cost of providing health care to his employees. He said his employees, who are middle-aged or older, need to have health care "in the worst way."
"I'm really, really optimistic that this is going to allow us to put a plan together," he said.
By: Dave Choate
Source: Portsmouth Herald
Next Article Previous Article