Citing a recent report that estimates the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance tax will force families purchasing coverage in the small group market to pay an additional $500 on average in premium costs next year, the American Farm Bureau Federation and 20-plus other organizations representing small businesses are urging the Senate Finance Committee to suspend the HIT for 2018.
“Absent immediate congressional action, our members, as well as seniors, Medicaid beneficiaries and individuals purchasing coverage on their own will face a $14.3 billion tax hike, driving up the cost of coverage for those struggling to afford the cost of care,” the groups—all members of the Stop the HIT Coalition—wrote to Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
The groups noted that previous congressional efforts to provide HIT relief—including bipartisan action from nearly 400 Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate to suspend the HIT for 2017—represented a significant step forward for small businesses.
The House this spring approved legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The American Health Care Act of 2017 (H.R. 1628) also repealed the health insurance tax, ended penalties on employers that fail to purchase health insurance for their workers and eliminated penalties for individuals who fail to purchase health insurance.
While efforts to pass an ACA repeal and replace bill fizzled out in the Senate earlier this summer, some lawmakers in that chamber are pressing on. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has teamed up with Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in an effort to draft legislation geared toward stabilizing health insurance markets. Also, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) recently announced legislation that would convert ACA funding into block grants.
In addition, the Senate HELP Committee conducted a series of ACA hearings over the past two weeks and the Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing on Sept. 14 on health care issues.