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PA ABC Health Care Proposal Will Benefit Small Businesses, Revenue Secretary Says
Date:6/18/2008

YORK, Pa., June 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The PA Access to Basic Care plan, which has passed the state House and has been awaiting action by the Senate since March, could help thousands of small businesses afford health insurance for their employees, said Department of Revenue Secretary and former York County business owner Tom Wolf at a Rotary luncheon in York today.

"The vast majority of Pennsylvania's 767,000 uninsured adults have full-time jobs and many are employed by small businesses," said Wolf. "More and more, these small businesses have to choose between continuing to pay hefty insurance premiums and letting their employees go without vital health insurance.

"This plan provides relief to small businesses that struggle the most with providing insurance to employees," said Wolf. "Care grants totaling $42 million would provide incentive to these companies to continue providing health insurance to employees, and Pennsylvania would become one of the first states in the nation to provide financial assistance to small businesses that are doing the right thing by providing health care to their employees."

PA ABC will make affordable basic health insurance available through the private insurance market to eligible small businesses that don't offer health insurance to their employees, Wolf said during a discussion about the state budget.

Small business employers would be eligible to join ABC if they have 50 or fewer employees with an average wage of $31,200. Employers will pay approximately $150 per employee per month toward the premium. Small business employees with family incomes up to 200 percent of federal poverty level will pay $0 to $50 per month as their contributions for health coverage. Those with family incomes greater than 200 percent will pay $150 for coverage.

Considering the cost of health care has soared 75 percent in the past five years alone, a growing number of small businesses must choose between continuing to pay hefty insurance premiums and dropping health coverage for employees. According to the Economic Policy Institute, between 2000 and 2006, almost a half million Pennsylvanians lost employer-based health insurance - second only to California.

"It's not just the uninsured who pay a price, as almost 7 cents of each dollar paid in insurance premiums is spent to cover the cost of health care for the uninsured," said Wolf. "Every Pennsylvanian pays the cost for an inadequate health care system, and we can no longer afford to ignore the need for real and effective health care reform."

In January 2007, Governor Edward G. Rendell introduced Cover All Pennsylvanians, a plan to provide access to health insurance coverage for the uninsured and for low-wage small businesses. In March 2008, the Democratic House leadership introduced a proposal called Pennsylvania Access to Better Care, or PA ABC, to insure about 275,00 uninsured adults over the next five years. For more information on that proposal, including a 10-year financial analysis, visit http://www.RXforpa.com.

CONTACT: Stephanie Weyant

(717) 787-6960


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Revenue
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