The Small Business Healthcare Relief Act (HR 5447) passed the U.S. House of Representatives on June 21 with bi-partisan support.
The purpose of the bill is to address the fact that, under current law, employers who do not sponsor a group health plan but that reimburse their employees for their premiums for individual health coverage are violating the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and are running the risk of being liable for an excise tax of $100 per day per reimbursed employee (or $36,500 per employee per year).
The bill is now awaiting action in the Senate (as S 3060), where it has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee. The bill currently has the following co-sponsors: Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Corey Gardner (R-CO), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Jon Tester (D-MT), David Vitter (R-LA) and Mark Warner (D-VA).
As announced by the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA), the Council for Affordable Health Coverage has set up a website which will allow users to send a message to their Senator in support of the bill. The Small Business Legislative Council—of which PIDA is a member—is also continuing its efforts to get the bill passed so that small businesses can continue to reimburse employees for some or all of their premiums for individual insurance on a pre-tax basis.