The Beacon Hill Report - May 1, 2014

Date: April 30, 2014

Related Content: News State Massachusetts

As the
American Automobile Association reported the price of gasoline had increased in
Massachusetts 26 cents per gallon over the same time a year ago, following a
leap in prices of 24  cents per gallon in
late April, the Massachusetts House considered amendments to their version of
the FY 2015 spending plan. One amendment would require the transparent display
of the actual taxes contained in the price per gallon paid by consumers – more
than 60 cents per gallon in MA.

It is also
now likely that one question for voters to decide on the ballot in November
will be whether the state gas tax should be tied to inflation and automatically
increase annually. The legislature increased the gas tax 3 cents per gallon and
indexed it to inflation last year. The price of gasoline may be a factor in the
fate of the question. NFIB opposes tying the gas tax to inflation because it
amounts to a higher tax which falls disproportionately on small business owners
without a vote of the legislature. 

MA RECEIVES HEALTH CARE WAIVER EXTENSION

Health and Human Services Sebelius has decreed that
Massachusetts’ small and medium-sized businesses will be permitted to enjoy
most of the benefits of rating factors for one more year.

Obamacare limited Massachusetts insurers to applying
four rating factors to determine premiums for companies. Massachusetts insurers
were no longer allowed to ‘rate’ businesses on such factors as size and
industry under federal health care reform. But when it became clear that many
Massachusetts businesses with less than 100 employees and their workers could
see annual increases in premiums from twenty to fifty per cent, the feds
granted the Commonwealth – the “model for health care reform” — a waiver to
phase in the elimination of the rating factors. This year insurers can use only
two-thirds of the factors when determining premiums.

The new announcement extends this year’s rating
factors through 2015 and delays complete elimination of the factors until 2017.
This means that the full impact from Obamacare on premiums for small and medium
sized businesses is delayed until after the 2016 election.

Delay is good news for Massachusetts businesses and
for every worker who contributes to the cost of their health insurance from his
or her paycheck. But delay is not a solution to the problem of rising cost of
health insurance for most Massachusetts workers and the companies that employ
them. Frankly, Massachusetts’ small businesses that have insured their workers
at record levels deserve permanent relief from the burdensome regulations of
federal reform so that they can continue to offer affordable health insurance
options to their workers.

Related Content: News | State | Massachusetts

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