House passes emergency fix to protect small businesses from ACA changes

WSLS Staff - RICHMOND (WSLS10) - The Virginia House of Delegates passed emergency legislation which they say protects small businesses.

H.B. 58 requires the Affordable Care Act to maintain its current definition of 'small business', which are businesses with 50 employees or less.

The bill excludes businesses with up to 100 employees from the category.

The House says the distinction is important because it keeps insurance rates down.

The full release is below:

RICHMOND, VA -  The Virginia House of Delegates passed emergency legislation Friday to protect small businesses from an insurance change originally mandated by the Affordable Care Act.  House Bill 58 is a fix to the Affordable Care Act to maintain the current small group insurance market definition as businesses with 1-50 employees.  The legislation was introduced by Delegate Kathy Byron (R-Bedford), and was reported unanimously Thursday from the Commerce & Labor Committee.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy," said Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford).  "Right now, small businesses are being crushed by the weight of federal mandates in healthcare.  At a time when so many small businesses are struggling, we have to do everything we can to provide relief and certainty.  This bipartisan bill will protect small businesses from another premium spike and will ensure their employees can keep their healthcare plans."

"As a business owner, I understand the value of providing health coverage to employees, but many small businesses are having to make difficult decisions due to rising prices caused by Obamacare," said Delegate Byron.  "Employers are being forced to cut hours for their employees, and families are unable to keep the healthcare plans they always counted on.  This emergency legislation allows small businesses to continue to provide the same plans they offered in the past without an outrageous premium hike.  I want to thank Speaker Howell, Chairman Kilgore, and my colleagues in the House for supporting this important legislation, and I look forward to continuing to promote small businesses in Virginia." Background: Under the ACA, small businesses between 51 and 100 employees were due to be moved into the small group insurance market starting in 2016.  The small group market is more heavily regulated than the market for larger businesses, and insurance rates for small businesses would rise significantly under this change.  The Obama administration modified the ACA to prevent this expansion.  However, Virginia is one of a few states where the Bureau of Insurance regulates the implementation of the ACA.  While other states were able to use executive action to follow the lead of the federal government, Virginia must pass legislation.

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