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Washington Watch - April 7, 2010

HHS Secretary Sebelius Explains Health Reform

Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), recently spoke about the new health reform legislation. The Secretary began her remarks by discussing how many people understandably still have questions about the law and stressed that HHS is where Americans should go to have all of their questions on health insurance reform answered.

HHS intends on working closely with states on implementing this law. Health reform will provide many benefits to states, such as lower spending on uncompensated care, saving money because of reduced insurance paperwork and receiving more resources from the federal government to provide coverage to children.

The Secretary stated that she expects state high risk pools to be up and running in 2010. About 34 states currently have high risk pools, according to Sebelius, however the costs are so high that many people who qualify cannot afford to join. If states choose to create new high risk pools under the health reform legislation, rates in these pools will be capped at 100 percent of the market rate, and if a state does not choose to create a pool, there will be a federal pool available.

Click here to visit the NASE Health Resource Center for more details.

Countdown To April 15

Tax Day is just a few weeks away, but is filing your return still on the ‘To Do’ list? It’s okay if you have not filed yet because the NASE is offering some last minute tax tips to make the process go smoothly.

“From time to time, we have all gotten a later start on our taxes than we would like,” said Keith Hall, NASE’s National Tax Advisor. “If you file your business return with your personal return, you may be able to get an automatic 6-month extension by completing Form 4868 by April 15. But remember, an extension of time to file is not an extension to pay. If you do not send the IRS what you think you owe, you'll be stuck with late fees and interest.”

Read about Hall's tips for procrastinators by clicking here.

New Unemployment Report Released

Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 162,000 in March, and the unemployment rate held at 9.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Temporary help services and health care continued to add jobs over the month. Employment in federal government also rose, reflecting the hiring of temporary workers for Census 2010. Employment continued to decline in financial activities and in information.

In March, the number of unemployed persons was little changed at 15.0 million, and the unemployment rate remained at 9.7 percent.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (10.0 percent), adult women (8.0 percent), teenagers (26.1 percent), whites (8.8 percent), blacks (16.5 percent), and Hispanics (12.6 percent) showed little or no change in March. The jobless rate for Asians was 7.5 percent, not seasonally adjusted.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) increased by 414,000 over the month to 6.5 million. In March, 44.1 percent of unemployed persons were jobless for 27 weeks or more.

The civilian labor force participation rate (64.9 percent) and the employment-population ratio (58.6 percent) continued to edge up in March.

The number of persons working part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) increased to 9.1 million in March. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

Read the rest of this announcement at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

Small Business Community Partner Relief Act of 2010

U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., and Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, along with Senator Richard Durbin, D-Ill., introduced legislation that would help alleviate the financial burdens causing small business counseling centers to close.

S.3165, the Small Business Community Partner Relief Act of 2010, enables the Small Business Administration (SBA) to temporarily waive the matching non-federal funding requirement Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) and Microloan intermediaries face to receive funding from the SBA. WBCs and Microloan intermediaries would benefit enormously from this change because funding from local governments, universities and private entities has depleted. In the last year, at least nine WBCs have closed or requested reduced funding and many Microloan intermediaries are struggling, yet seeing record demand for their services.

To read Senator Landrieu’s statement, please click here.

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