Gov. Baker Approved New Fees for Massachusetts Employers

Date: August 16, 2017

 

Despite vocal opposition from NFIB/MA and other business groups, Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law the measure that will impose $200 million in new fees on Massachusetts employers.

One fee is the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution, which will rise to $77 (from $51) per year per employee. The other will fine employers up to $750 per employee if workers enroll in MassHealth, despite having access to workplace-sponsored health insurance. Both assessments are scheduled to sunset after two years. The measure also reduces unemployment insurance rate increases over the next two years, to the tune of $334 million.

This scheme is designed to help fund MassHealth, but it comes without much-needed reforms to the healthcare program for low-income residents. In July, Gov. Baker sent the employer assessment proposal back to the Legislature with the insistence that they be parceled with MassHealth reforms that would rein in eligibility, growth, and costs. Lawmakers, however, voted down the reforms with veto-proof margins and sent the proposal back to the governor to veto or sign.

Gov. Baker signed the measure despite the lack of reforms, saying he trusted the Legislature would follow through on their promises to work with him on a plan to rein in MassHealth’s growth and runaway costs. Without Gov. Baker’s proposed reforms, MassHealth spending is expected to balloon by $300 million this year.

Prior to the governor’s approval, NFIB/MA State Director Christopher Carlozzi released a statement: “We urge Governor Baker to veto the healthcare assessment in its current form. Not only do we believe that the time has come to prioritize reining in MassHealth spending, but we fear that the ‘temporary’ healthcare assessment may ultimately be added to the long list of permanent costs for Massachusetts small businesses. Our members already struggle to provide health coverage for their workers and do not need an additional expense to make a bad situation worse.”

 

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