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Small Biz Community Calls on Sen. Heitkamp to Move HRA Bill as Part of Year-End Tax Negotiations

Wednesday, December 16, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT:  Kristofer Eisenla, LUNA+EISENLA media
kristofer@lunaeisenlamedia.com | 202-670-5747 (mobile)

Lead Democratic Cosponsor of Crucial Bipartisan, Bicameral HRA Legislation Should Protect American Small Business Community, Ensure the Health Care System Works for All Americans


WASHINGTON, D.C.
– As negotiations continue in the U.S. Congress on a potential compromise around a package of expired tax breaks, the small business community is calling on Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) to include the critical “Small Business Healthcare Relief Act” as part of the compromise. 

The calls today are being led by the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), the nation’s leading advocate and resource for the self-employed and micro-business community.  NASE is asking North Dakota Senator Heitkamp to “ensure the health care system works for all Americans by moving this critical piece of bipartisan legislation supported by both houses of Congress.”

“As a leader in the small business community, we are calling on Senator Heitkamp to protect America’s Main Street from an unintended consequence of the Affordable Care Act,” said Katie Vlietstra, NASE Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs. “If Congress is to rectify this unintended consequence harming America’s small business community, now is the time to act.  Senator Heitkamp should immediately work with Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to include the widely supported HRA legislation as part of the tax-extenders compromise currently being negotiated.”

Senator Heitkamp is a leading original sponsor of the legislation, S-1697, the “Small Business Healthcare Relief Act”, which would allow an employer with fewer than 50 employees that does not offer group health insurance coverage to establish a health reimbursement arrangement.

“American small businesses and the entire health care system are counting on the Senator to not only move this bill, but encourage and recruit her fellow Democrats and Republicans to support this much needed legislation. Our greatest hope in reversing this unfortunate tax on the small business community is for this legislation to become part of the tax package currently being debated in Congress,” continued Vlietstra. 

Earlier this year, the Treasury Department announced that it is delaying the enforcement of the technical guidance issued in September 2013 regarding Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs), a key health care tool for America’s smallest employers. HRAs have long-been used to help small business owners provide some level of financial support for their employees. As an unintended consequence of the ACA, the prohibition placed upon the use of HRAs is detrimental to small businesses and their employees across the country. The change resulted in a particularly negative impact on small employers with 49 or less employees that are under no legal obligation to provide a qualified health care plan for their employees under the employer mandate of the ACA. 

When the technical guidance was issued, NASE submitted a draft response illustrating its affect on the small business community. Earlier this year, Vlietstra penned an op-ed on this health care situation for The Hill’s Congress Blog.

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The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) is the nation's leading resource for the self-employed and micro-businesses, bringing a broad range of benefits to help entrepreneurs succeed and to drive the continued growth of this vital segment of the American economy. The NASE
Small Business Locator helps identify and connect our nation’s smallest businesses. In addition, NASE’s new health care portal helps small business owners navigate the nation’s health care marketplace. The NASE is a 501(c) (6) nonprofit organization and provides big-business advantages to hundreds of thousands of micro-businesses across the United States. For more information, visit the association's website at NASE.org


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