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Murray • Utah business groups are pushing to repeal a tax on health insurance companies that they say will get passed on to small businesses, but even the bill's co-sponsor, Rep. Mia Love, says getting the law changed may be unlikely.
Under a provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare, which took effect last year, health insurance companies are required to pay a new tax of about $11.3 billion this year.
Big, self-insured companies won't be affected, so it is smaller businesses and, as a result, their workers that will end up paying the tax, said David Davis, president of the Utah Retail Merchants Association.
Love is a co-sponsor of HR928, a bill that seeks to repeal the tax one of several Republican-led efforts to dismantle Obamacare, including repeated House votes to dump the ACA.
The first-year congresswoman acknowledged Tuesday that a complete repeal of ACA is unlikely. The House has voted dozens of times to scrap or change the law, but the Senate has never gone along.
"What we can do right now," Love said, "is take it and change it piece by piece."
Even that seems unlikely, she said, with President Barack Obama certain to veto changes to his signature health care law. But forcing the president to veto changes would show the public that it is the White House, not Congress, causing gridlock and obstruction.
"We were promised it's all going to be rainbows and daisies," Love said, "and actually we're getting just the opposite of that."
Small businesses can apply for a tax credit to offset the costs associated with the tax, but it covers only about a fifth of the expense, Davis said.
Candace Daly, of the National Federation of Independent Business, said that members of her organization that have applied for the credit haven't qualified.
Jeff Downward, owner of Francois D. College of Hair, Skin and Nails in Sandy, said he has seen his health care costs shoot up since Obamacare was passed. His own premiums have doubled, he said.
It's to the point that his employees can't afford any more health care costs, Downward said. "They're living paycheck to paycheck as it is."
The Obama administration has argued that the Affordable Care Act has had the opposite effect helping 16.4 million Americans get health insurance and significantly reducing the growth in health care costs.
According to the White House, 2011-2013 saw the slowest growth in health expenditures on record. The slower growth means families are paying about $1,800 less a year for health insurance than if costs had continued on their earlier trajectory.
The bill, introduced in February, has 196 co-sponsors. It has not had a House committee hearing.
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