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Washington Watch - March 28, 2012


Supreme Court Hears From Supporters And Opponents Of Health Care Reform

In an unprecedented 5 ½ hours of oral questioning, the Supreme Court on Monday began hearing the challenge to President Obama’s biggest legislative accomplishment in his presidency, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  The Court is scheduled over three-days to ponder four key health care reform questions:  (1)  the legality of the individual mandate, (2) whether a "tax" can be reviewed by the court before it takes effect, (3) whether the individual mandate can be severed from the rest of the reform law, and (4) the legality of the Medicaid expansion.

The Court’s review of the law comes as recent public polling suggest that nearly 47% of Americans disapprove of the health care law (NYT/CBS poll) , specifically, the individual mandate and two-thirds of Americans would like to see some or all of the law overturned.  However, there is broad support, 85%, who support some of the key market reforms such as requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions and allowing adults to remain on their parents insurance until age 26. 

The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) continues to oppose the individual mandate as currently it does not provide the flexibility for the self-employed.  The association, however, is supportive of the market reforms included in the law, but believes that Congress failed to address underlying issues of affordability when crafting the health care law.   

Affordability of health care remains the NASE’s #1 legislative priority, in fact, we believe strongly that if the Supreme Court should strike down the health care law in its entirety or the individual mandate, that Congress should commit itself to working across the aisle to put forth common sense solutions that allow for a competitive health care market. This market would allows for individuals to pick and choose health care based on their needs, not what they can or cannot afford.  To that point, the NASE has actively pursued Congress to enact legislation to allow for the permanent deduction of health care insurance for the self-employed, one of these easiest and quickest ways to bring equity to the health care market.  Additionally, key reforms in Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) to allow for employers to reimburse employees for related health care costs is another way that tools already in the market can be used to address coverage and affordability issues.

The Supreme Court is expected to make its ruling before the court recess in October.


NASE In USA TODAY

The NASE was recently featured in an article about how temporary tax breaks do not allow small-business owners to plan ahead. NASE Member Tiffany Washington was also featured. See excerpt below.

[NASE Member] Tiffany Washington, owner of Washington Accounting Services in Waldorf, Md., says the standoff about extending the payroll tax cut caused her to put off hiring another employee.

In December, Congress passed a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, which added about $40 to the average worker's paycheck. Washington says she was concerned that a drop in take-home pay at the end of the two-month period could lead the new employee to leave for a higher-paying job.

In February, Congress agreed to extend the tax cut through 2012. By that time, Washington says, it was too late to train someone for the 2012 tax season.

One of Washington's three employees recently had to take a leave of absence for medical reasons, leaving her short-handed. That has forced Washington, who has owned the business for five years, to work 70 to 80 hours a week during tax season.

Washington has the advantage of knowing her way around the tax code. That's not the case with many self-employed and small-business owners who can't afford a chief financial officer to help them navigate the constantly changing tax laws, says Kristie Arslan, chief executive officer of the National Association for the Self-Employed.

With the tax code constantly in flux, she adds, "they don't know how to plan or what to do."

Read the full article here.


Small And Large Business Partnerships = Job Growth?

The House Committee on Small Business will conduct a hearing this week titled, Large and Small Businesses: How Partnerships Can Promote Job Growth. 

Increasingly, large and small businesses are partnering to access the research, innovations and services they need to be successful. Large firms are joining with small firms to benefit from their leanness, nimbleness, and creativity. Small companies can also benefit by tapping into the larger distribution networks, financing opportunities, and mentoring programs that large businesses can supply. This hearing will examine those alliances, and how they can promote job creation.

Stay tuned to Washington Watch for further updates on this topic.


Washington Watch Online

Visit NASE Advocacy to view archived editions of Washington Watch. While you’re there, read the latest updates from the Washington, D.C. office, write your Congressperson, and find out how you can join the fight for micro-business.

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