New York legislators are unlikely to provide small business owners with relief for high health insurance costs this year.
Lawmakers have to decide what to do about the Health Care Reform Act, which is scheduled to expire at the end of 2017. Legislators have continually extended the act – along with its 8.18 percent surcharge – since its enactment in 1996 to the chagrin of many in the business community.
The law charges individuals for patient services received at hospitals, diagnostic treatment centers and labs. Advocates said the bill would help pay for the cost of hidden state subsidies for programs such as doctor training to ultimately lower healthcare costs and create more competition in the marketplace, according to Leslie Moran, senior vice president of the New York Health Plan Association.
Originally, lawmakers meant to allocate funds generated from the surcharge to fund health care throughout the state, but opponents of the tax say money is now going to a variety of more generic causes, and some business advocates are concerned the law disproportionately affects small business owners.
“I think business would argue that [the programs funded by the surcharge] are important, but that we should be paying for them through a broad-based tax that everybody pays instead of just through an insurance tax,” Moran said.
Action hasn’t been taken on the surcharge yet this year, but it is expected that lawmakers will extend it once again, Moran said.